February 28, 2023

Let Us Fast With a Fast That is Pleasing To the Lord (St. John Maximovitch)

 By St. John Maximovitch

The time has come for our preparation for eternal life, the time for meeting with the Lord who is coming to earth again.

The Church calls on all of us to remember that, in addition to daily earthly concerns and deeds, there is also eternal life, that we are all called to live forever.

What should be the preparation? In purification of the spirit and restraint of the flesh. “The race of demons,” Christ said, “is overcome only by fasting and prayer.”

Therefore, prayer is needed first of all.

Great Lent has longer divine services, prayers - there is constant prayer for the forgiveness of sins. But in addition to prayer, fasting is also needed. Fasting is, as it were, a sacrifice to God from our body. What does the word post mean?* We know that a post means both a high position in the civil service and the place where a sentry stands. Both a high statesman, and especially a sentry on guard, must vigilantly observe everything that happens, so that nothing happens to the detriment of what he has been entrusted with. So our fast is standing guard over the soul. Fasting is careful observation so that nothing harms our soul. Fasting is watching one's thoughts, guarding one's gaze from harmful sights, one's hearing from soul-damaging conversations, one's tongue from wicked and empty words, one's mouth from inappropriate food.

The time of fasting is the time when all our attention should be turned to the inevitable end of earthly life for everyone and the inevitable Last Judgment.

Fasting is especially the curbing of one's will. The sentry, standing at his post, has no will of his own. He must exactly do what he is told, not allow anything that should not happen, not let anyone through who does not have the right. So we, while fasting, should not fast as anyone pleases, but as indicated by the Church. “I will build My Church, and the gates of hades shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18), Christ said. The Church was created by Christ on earth for this, so that She would lead people from earth to heaven.

Listen, children of the Church, to Her voice as the voice of God, for She is headed by the Son of God and is led by the Holy Spirit. Everyone is required to have a desire to do what She has prescribed, and make an effort to do it, with prayer, with the help of the Lord. And whoever is unable to fulfill everything according to the Rule, or does not know, let him turn to the priests, who are appointed to lead the flock, leading them along the path of salvation.

* The Russian word "пост" is literally translated as "post", "office", "appointment" or "seat", but it also translates as "fast" and is used to describe fasting as a guarding of the will and senses.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.  

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