I’m sorry, was the response I murmured as I stood before my parental unit, saying the words, but not fully owning the repentance. I realized that in their eyes I had crossed the line of right and wrong by the look of displeasure on their faces; now aware, and now replaying my actions within my mind to decide wither I wanted to modify my behavior in the future or choose to accept the consequences!
I begin here with this reflection as we embrace the season of repentance and forgiveness. As Orthodox Christians, we need to self examine our behaviors and practice methods that help us modify our actions to increase our humility, loving our neighbors will never be easy. If we seek to a change a behavioral pattern to help us improve our flaws, we realize a since of discomfort, or a new unfamiliar behavioral pattern. And one way we help accomplish this is by fasting! We know that just within the contents of the four Gospels, fasting is spoken of in a constructive way, over twenty times.
From the Cheesefare Synaxarion we read: Since we have so suffered from Adam’s failure to keep the fast, this event is commemorated today at the beginning of Great Lent, so that keeping in mind the enormous evil brought about by Adam’s intemperance, we may make joyful haste to accept and keep the fast. And as Adam sinned in his desire to become godlike, we may thereby receive godliness through fasting, tears and humility until God visits us; for without these it is impossible to regain that which we have lost. For the sake of Adam’s greed the Lord fasted for forty days and was obedient. It was for this reason that the holy Apostles conceived this present forty-day fast, so that as Adam forfeited incorruption through his gluttony, we may regain it through abstinence. It was the intent of the Holy Fathers through the Triodion to relate in a condensed form all of God’s acts from the beginning to the end of the world. Since Adam’s transgression and fall through the eating of the fruit of the tree is the principal cause of the state of mankind, the Fathers urge us who are observing this remembrance to avoid Adam’s sin and to shun overindulgence in all things.
The church recognizes that some people have health concerns that prevent them from practicing a vegan fast and they are then expected to fast in other meaningful ways, giving up things that have become worldly distractions in their everyday life or lessening their earthly footprint and increasing their since of self-awareness! Perhaps we can consider these few healthy behaviors to improve on: time for morning and evening prayers, daily scripture reading and or daily readings of the lives of the saints, visiting the shut-ins and retirement homes, feeding the homeless, cleaning and volunteering at church, increasing our tithe and alms, more frequent confession and communion and self-examination.
In this Lenten season, it is also important that we turn our attention to the Cross, where our Savior died for our sins. We must admit that we choose to sin. Saint Simeon the New Theologian states: “let no one invent excuses for his sins and say that we, by virtue of the transgression of Adam, are entirely subject to the action of the devil and are dragged by force into sin.” In our course in life there are choices, and we have the freedom to be God-Seekers or stuck in the muck where the maggots never die. (Mark 9:44-48) All things of this world shall perish, but a relationship with God will remain. [Mt. 11:29-30] And Blessed Theophylact writes that:”The yoke of Christ is humility and meekness. For he who humbles himself before all men has rest and remains untroubled.”
Forgive me a sinner! Forgive me in the ways that I have failed as a man with my lack of love for mankind and forgive me in the ways I have failed you as a priest!
Fr. Gabriel Weller 2-18-18