Heading Out the Front Door and Looking to the Cross
Happy St. Nicholas Day! (December 19/6)
As with all great Journeys, we make the path by travelling it… and mindful, active preparation is paramount!
Faithfully fixing our eyes on the Joyous, Inspiring Destination ahead, we trim our wicks as it were, and proceed with continued efforts (that, speaking personally… may feel huge, but in reality are mostly quite small) to greet the Shining Feast of The Nativity of Christ.
Beginning with this month’s earlier Feast Day of the Entry of the Theotokos into the Temple, the Katavasia Christ is Born is sung encouragingly at all vigil services… combining aspects of both the Journey and the upcoming Festal Destination. The hymns brim with Old Testament prophecies and exude mysterious prefigurements of His coming.
The Heavenly Babe calls each one of us to come to Him, with childlike faith… and fasting is a spiritual aid to do this. While there are also many celebratory fast-free periods throughout the church calendar year, half the church year is literally spent in fasting together.
Besides the Church’s usual weekly Wednesdays and Friday fast days, there are other Lenten times during the church calendar year. The most lengthy and strictest fast is the Great Lent before Pascha. Depending on the individual of course, practical health considerations (such as age, pregnancy, diabetes, etc.) may exclude full physical fasting… but there are countless other ways to spiritually fast.
Fasting of the body is food for the soul… Do you fast? Then feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, visit the sick, do not forget the imprisoned, have pity on the tortured, comfort those who grieve and who weep, be merciful, humble, kind, calm, patient, sympathetic, forgiving, reverent, truthful and pious, so that God might accept your fasting and might plentifully grant you the fruits of repentance. ~ St. John Chrysostom
Of course, it would be easier to get to paradise with a full stomach, all snuggled up in a soft feather-bed, but what is required is to carry one’s cross along the way, for the kingdom of God is not attained by enduring one or two troubles, but many! ~ St. Anthony of Optina
Christ comes from heaven, meet ye Him! And so, like little children… let our souls fly and cling to the Heavenly Babe, and praise Him, for He is a God is Love. Let us spiritually reap the rays of His Light that illumines the world’s darkness… For He is the Sun of Righteousness, which knows no rising or setting, and He Shines ceaselessly!