March 1, 2014

Approaching Christ During Holy and Great Lent

By Monk Moses the Athonite

The main elements of Great Lent are prayer and fasting. Prayer presupposes faith. Without prayer one is helpless, insecure, blind and alone.

Tied to the earth, to matter, one is not aware that they can fly high, to shine in the heavens, to have needed heavenly assistance.

They are magnetized, tied, attached to the perishable and earthly. They are not easily detached. They try to acquire treasure on earth. They constantly look for pleasure to cheer them up, instead they get pain out of it. It is sad and pathetic to look for happiness in the mud.

The ascent to heaven begins with repentance, sincere repentance, devout heartache. One should feel that they weren't formed for the dirt. The passions do not truly bring happiness. Adherence to the herein is a serious mistake and the cost has bitter consequences. To ascend higher than what one can see is not impossible. It is possible for everyone. It suffices to only want it, to love it. In the beginning we are hesitant, cowardly, afraid, we do not want to take the risk.

Indeed we consider it elusive, strange, unnatural, impossible, but not for us. We think it is an unacceptable and irreverent game, that we are very sinful for something like this. Prayer is not only for the saints. But if someone prays modestly and humbly, then their heart begins to sweeten, to brighten, to be strengthened, to find rest. They feel that it is worth praying. They feel delight, rapture, security, empowerment and solace. They understand that it is a great need of the soul, a natural movement, an inner liturgy. It becomes a good habit and not a standard practice. It is a daily nourishment and gift. Just as the body wants daily nourishment for maintenance, so does our eternal soul. One cannot love God and not be connected with Him, to not converse or pray. The memory of God is a prayer. When you remember your beloved you rejoice. Divine invocation is an occasion for great joy, peace and blessing.

Without prayer the soul remains without breath, strength or health. Prayer gives spiritual health, balance, discernment, enlightenment, sanctification. Prayer shields us from sin. A prayerful person chats with God and does not deal with vain things. They learn humility, meekness, simplicity and love. The prayerful person is a beloved child of God. A great gift of God to humanity is prayer. This period of Great Lent is an extraordinary opportunity to learn to truly pray.

Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.