We're now nearly at the midpoint of the Great Fast. This coming Sunday, the Church presents to us the Holy Cross of our Lord as a reward for our efforts in the Fast to date, and as an encouragement to persevere, to continue the struggle for just a little longer.
While the duration of the Great Fast sounds daunting to us, the time is really so very short to attempt to correct those things in our lives that need correction. In fact, the best we can do is to seek the Lord's help in attempting to move towards Him by removing the largest logs from our eyes (Matthew Chapter 7). Only then, perhaps in the next fasting season, will we be granted the vision to see the branches that need to be removed, and then the twigs, and then the splinters, and so on.
Our task is finding today's log, and being resolute about extracting it. Saint Innocent wrote, "Without faith in Jesus Christ no one can return to God and enter the Kingdom of Heaven. No one, even though he believe in Jesus Christ, can regard himself to be His disciple and share His glory in Heaven if he does not act as Jesus Christ did. And no one is able to follow Jesus Christ if he does not receive help from the Holy Spirit. To receive the Holy Spirit, we must use the means granted us by God."
God has granted us the means to follow Him by giving us the Holy Spirit as our guide. He urges us to follow the Lord, to act as He did, as He does. We can say with our lips, "I believe." We can express that as our faith. But if our actions do not match our words, then they are only words, and empty ones at that.
Saint John Climacus taught, "In all your understandings and in every way of life, whether you are living in obedience (that is, under the direction of a spiritual father), or not submitting your work to anyone, whether in outward or in spiritual matters, let it be your rule and practice to ask yourself, 'Am I really doing this in accordance with God's will?'"
If that which is foremost in our minds is conformance to His will, seeking it first, then we are walking in the Spirit, being guided by Him. Then the words of our lips ring true, not empty. Then we seek what is best for ourselves by caring for our enemies, for the poor, and for anyone whom the Lord guides us to come to know.
Saint Seraphim of Sarov sums up these thoughts with these words: "Prayer, fasting, vigils, and all other Christian practices, however good they may be in themselves, certainly do not constitute the aim of our Christian life. They are but the indispensable means of attaining that aim. For the true aim of the Christian life is the acquisition of the Holy Spirit of God. As for fasts, vigils, prayers and almsgiving, and other good works done in the name of Christ, they are only the means of acquiring the Holy Spirit of God. Note well that it is only good works done in the name of Christ that bring us the fruits of the Spirit."
In essence, Saint Seraphim is saying that if we pass through this Fast, and we complete it without failing once to fast as we had planned, but at the same time do not draw nearer to the Lord in Spirit, the Fasting was in vain. If we promise God in the Fast to work for the needy, to give more than we have before, but at the end are no nearer to Christ, our almsgiving has been in vain. If we attend every Divine Service in the Church without exception, but at the end are no closer to the Lord, our attendance has been in vain.
As we come to the weekend wherein we draw strength from the Cross of our Lord, let us not lose sight of the fact that our struggle so far in the Fast, and the struggle which remains, is intended to draw us to Him, building within ourselves that 'home', that space we dedicate to the Holy Spirit, for His permanent residence within us. Drawing strength from the Cross of Christ, let us open our hearts to the Spirit, and to following our Lord today, throughout the Fast, and for as many days as He gives us!
Welcome to Saint Herman's, Hudson, Ohio
This blog is a partial compilation of the messages, texts, readings, and prayers from our small community. We pray that it will be used by our own people, to their edification. And if you happen by and are inclined to read, give the glory to God!
The blog title, "Will He Find Faith on the Earth?" is from Luke 18:8, the "Parable of the Persistent Widow." It overlays the icon of the Last Judgment, an historical event detailed in Matthew Chapter 25, for which we wait as we pray in the Nicean Creed.
We serve the Holy Orthodox cycle of services in contemporary English. Under the omophorion of His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph of the Bulgarian Patriarchal Diocese of the USA, Canada and Australia, we worship at 5107 Darrow Road in Hudson, Ohio (44236). If you are in the area, please join us for worship!
Regular services include:
Sunday Divine Liturgy 10AM (Sept 1 - May 31)
930AM (June 1 - Aug 31)
Vespers each Saturday 6PM
We pray that you might join us for as many of these services as possible! We are open, and we welcome inside the Church all visitors. See our Parish web page: