This Week’s Reflection
“I told him that the soul could be freed from sinful thoughts only by guarding the mind and cleansing the heart and that this could be done by interior prayer. I added that according to the holy Fathers, one who performs saving works simply from the fear of hell follows the way of bondage, and one who does the same just in order to be rewarded with the Kingdom of Heaven follows the path of a bargainer with God. The one they call a slave, the other a hireling. But God wants us to come to Him as children to their father. He wants us to behave ourselves honorably from love for Him and zeal for his service. He wants us to find our happiness in uniting ourselves with Him in a saving union of mind and heart.” –The Way of the Pilgrim
N.B. When Eastern Christians refer to “holy Fathers,” they mean saints.
The more that one grows in Christ the more one will learn that the real battleground is the mind. Sometimes we think dwelling on harmful thoughts is ok as long as we don’t act out. Of course, Jesus corrected this thinking, when he said, for example, “if a man lusts after a woman he has already committed adultery with her in his heart.” Next time you have thoughts of anger, of worry, or doubt, etc. don’t think on it. Instead, learn to pray it away. When it comes back, try it again, ad nauseam. Remember, “it is what goes into the heart that” dirties our soul; it is also what goes into the heart that cleanses the soul. It may take a while to clean a very dirty pan, so it is with the soul. Don’t be discouraged. Put some elbow grease into it. Let our hearts become prayer!
-Fr. Nathan Symeon
Guidance from the Typikon (guidebook for the church year) re: fasting during the Great Fast:
“In the Great Fast, abstinence from meat, fish, dairy products, alcohol and foods cooked in oil was prescribed for all days, except days of mitigation. All Saturdays and Sundays, February 24, March 9, Wed to Friday of the 5th week, the Pre-festive Day and Leave-taking (Otdanije) of Annunciation were mitigated for wine and oil. The Feast of the Annunciation (March 25th) and Palm Sundays were mitigations.
The Ruthenian Metropolia prescribes strict abstinence (from meat and dairy products) on the First Monday of the Great Fast and on Good Friday, and abstinence from meat on all Wednesdays and Fridays”
From Father Michael: In other words, our bishop is asking us to abstain from meat on all Wednesdays and Fridays, and from meat and dairy on Clean Monday (Feb. 15) and Great and Holy Friday (April 2). Please talk to me if have any concerns about health or wellness. Our Byzantine tradition encourages the additional fast mentioned above with a lessening of the fast (wine and oil allowed) on the days mentioned. Annunciation and Palm Sunday are days of full mitigation, meaning there are no fasting regulations, but many will maintain part of their fasting regimen to emphasize further the joy and celebration of Pascha.
Prayer of St. Ephrem
Lord and Master of my life,
spare me from the spirit of indifference, despair,
lust for power, and idle chatter. (prostration)
Instead, bestow on me, your servant,
the spirit of integrity, humility, patience, and love. (prostration)
Yes, O Lord and King, let me see my own sins
and not judge my brothers and sisters;
for you are blessed forever and ever. Amen. (prostration)
Saturday, February 13 –