My soul, my soul arise, why art thou sleeping? The end is drawing near, and thou shalt be confounded. Wake then, and be watchful, that Christ our God may spare thee, He that is everywhere present and
filleth all things.
- Kontakion of the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete
On Monday, 2/15 March we begin the most solemn and penitential season of the Great 40 Day Fast (Tessarakosti, Great Lent). The Church in her divine wisdom has appointed this time for the rebirth in us of spiritual striving, for us to come to ourselves, to realize our true purpose in life, which is our salvation, and to be cleansed of the sins into which we have fallen due to our negligence and forgetfulness of this true purpose.
There are attitudes prevalent in the world today which militate very much against repentance and salvation, and to be saved, we must recognize and admit to what extent we have adopted these attitudes, and we have to fight them:
One-Few people today believe that they can lose their salvation. Even "religious" people are very careless about their souls, thinking that if they "just believe" (something or other) or "are good" (whatever that means), they will "go to heaven." They have forgotten the many places in Holy Scripture which speak of death, God's judgment, heaven, and hell, and especially they have forgotten Christ's own words that the way to life is narrow and few find it! Let us cast off carelessness and a superficial attitude regarding our salvation, and strive to find and follow the narrow way laid out in the Gospel!
Two - Few people today have a firm resolve to suffer in order to find their salvation. Immersed in physical comfort, surrounded by entertainment, and frantically obsessed with doing everything demanded by the god of society in order to keep these things, modern man is too fainthearted and cowardly to endure sufferings for the Faith. We must, by contrast, beg God to give us a firm resolve to endure whatever is necessary, if only we can find our salvation.
Three - The mind of modern man is filled with noise and distractions; silence and prayer are foreign to him. Bombarded by video and audio input from waking till bedtime, engaged in a thousand fragmentary and banal conversations in the course of a day, and addicted to stupid and vulgar music, most people's minds are mental and spiritual disaster areas. If we are to hope to rescue our minds from the devil's deception and the world's lies, we must eliminate unnecessary distractions, guard our tongue, be quiet as much as possible, and set aside time for silence, holy reading, and prayer in our day.
Life is short, death is certain, judgment is eternal. Let us re-dedicate ourselves to the salvation of our souls, the service of God our Creator and Redeemer, and to His Holy Church! May this Great Lent be truly the springtime and resurrection of our souls!
Desire that which is truly yours.
Too great solicitude for worldly things is natural to an unbelieving and fainthearted man. And woe to us if we, in taking care for ourselves, do not confirm ourselves in our hope in God, Who takes care for us! If we do not ascribe to Him the visible goods which we use in this present age, how can we expect from Him those goods which are promised in the future? Let us not be such faint believers, but rather let us seek first the Kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added unto us, according to the word of the Savior (Matthew 6:33).
It is better for us to despise what is not ours, that is, the temporal and passing, and desire our own, that is, incorruption and immortality. For when we shall be incorruptible and immortal, we shall become worthy of visible contemplation of God, like the Apostles at the most divine Transfiguration, and we shall be joined in a union with God surpassing the mind, like the heavenly minds. For we shall be like the angels, and sons of God, being the sons of the resurrection (Luke 20:36).
Love for silence
More than anything else, one should adorn oneself with silence; for St. Ambrose of Milan says: I have seen many being saved by silence, but not one by talkativeness. And again one of the Fathers [St. Isaac the Syrian] says that silence is the mystery of the future age, while words are the implements of this world
- from the Spiritual Instructions of St. Seraphim of Sarov
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