Today (although on the Holy Mountain it will be 13 days from now) begins a period of preparation in our Church for the great feast of the Nativity of Christ. During this period, the Church invites every human being freely and simply, saying: "We are now fasting, if you want you can come along too."
This invitation is made with love and in a mood for struggle, setting forth Christ as the "prize". In order to share in Christ, let us offer Him our own struggle and effort, showing that we want Him as our Savior and Redeemer!
Fasting does not consist only in the limitation of food, but a control of all the senses, what we will eat, what we will think, what we will see, what we will say. It is for the purification of our souls through confession and struggle according to the direction of our spiritual fathers, without extremes.
This effort is not easy, nor is it impossible. There is also the grace of God which comes to strengthen us in our struggle and effort. The basic prerequisite of all is free choice and not force, not just because "we have to". I fast and struggle not because "I have to", but because I want to; it is my free choice.
Let us listen to what our mother the Church urges... "If you want, come with us." The common struggle has beauty. A Good Forty Day Fast to all and may we arrive at Holy Christmas healthy!
Abbot of Esphigmenou Monastery
Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos.