The Great and Holy Fast of our Sacred Orthodox Church has begun. It is a fast that commences with marked strictness. In the monasteries and at our Sacred Archdiocese headquarters, no food will be taken until the Pre-Sanctified Divine Liturgy, which is always scheduled for the morning of the third day of the Fast. No food is taken for two full days!
I have often found this type of strict abstinence difficult and beyond my strength, but nonetheless its existence — not only in far away Mount Athos and obscure monasteries scattered throughout the world, but even here at our own Archdiocesan Centre in Miramar, Wellington, New Zealand — underlines for all of us, those who fast and those who don’t, the sober nature of the Lenten Fast.
It is treated in the universal Church as something sacred and containing great power. One can almost imagine the same hushed reverence among scientists and soldiers in the presence of a nuclear weapon. No false moves or careless behavior. Instead, we embrace focus and caution. Does the fast have that kind of power? Yes, it does. It has the power to make sinners into saints! That is a power rarely found on earth! Let us begin it with attention!
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