How much we care…

The Bible tells us: “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Mark 8:36) That is how precious the human soul is. It is more precious than the whole earth with all its treasures and blessings. However, it’s frightening to think how little we understand our soul’s worth. From morning to night, we direct all our thoughts to the body, the housing for worms, this fallen coffin, and on God’s most precious and beloved creation, on His image of glory and majesty, we hardly spare one thought in a week. We spend the most flourishing years of our life in serving our body, and only the last minutes of our decrepit old age, toward eternal salvation. Daily, the body indulges itself with full cups and sumptuous dishes, as though at a rich man’s feast, while the soul barely gathers crumbs of God’s words on His doorstep. The insignificant body is washed, dressed, cleaned, adorned with all types of treasures from nature and the sciences, while the priceless soul, the bride of Jesus Christ, inheritor of Heaven, wanders with exhausted steps, donned in clothing of a poor wanderer that is without charity.

The body doesn’t tolerate one blemish on its face, any dirt on its hands, not one patch on its clothing, while the soul, from head to toe, covered with filth, that goes from one sinful quagmire to another, and its yearly confessional which is often hypocritical, only increases its patches rather than rejuvenating it. The body demands various forms of diversions and gratifications; it frequently ravages whole families, for its sake people sometimes are willing to exert all types of efforts while the soul – has barely one hour on Sundays to partake in the Divine Liturgy, scarcely minutes for morning and evening prayers, reluctantly collects a handful of copper coins for charity and when thinking about death, expresses its satisfaction with a cold sigh. For the sake of health and welfare of the body, the atmosphere and habitat is substituted, foremost and distant physicians are summoned, there is abstinence from food and drink, the most bitter medicines are consumed, the body is allowed to be burned and dissected, yet for the health of the soul, for the avoidance of temptations, for distancing away from sinful infection, they take not one step but remain in the same atmosphere, in the same iniquitous society, in the same corrupt house, not seeking any spiritual physician, or else selecting one that is unfamiliar and inexperienced, hiding from him that which is already known to Heaven and hell, and about which they themselves boast among their circles. When the body is dying, you hear lamentations and despair, but often no thought is given when the soul is dying from mortal sin.

Like Adam and Eve, we don’t know the value of our soul and give it away for a seemingly rich yield.

At least why don’t we cry like Adam and Eve? Unfortunately, in the main, our concerns are for acquiring earthly benefits and not Heavenly ones. We forget that earthly gains soon pass and cannot be retained, while Heavenly gains are eternal, endless and cannot be taken away. Most gracious Lord! Help us to despise everything transient and concern ourselves only with the needs to save our souls.

St. Ambrose of Optina

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Virtues are formed…

“Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy Spirit, and raises man to heaven.

St. Ephraim the Syrian

Do Not Restrict…

Do not restrict the benefit of fasting to abstinence from food alone. True fasting is abstinence from evil. Let go of every unjust tie. Do not sadden your brother. Forgive others their debts. Do not argue and fight when you fast. You do not eat meat, but you bite your brother. You stay away from wine, but you do not refrain from cursing others…Fasting is speaking in moderation; refraining from anger; separation from [evil] desires, criticism, lies, and oaths. Deprivation of these things is true fasting.

St. Basil the Great

The life of self-centeredness…

The life of self-centeredness and self-satisfaction lived by most of today’s Christians is so all-pervading that it effectively seals them off from any understanding at all of spiritual life; and when such people do undertake spiritual life, it is only as another form of self-satisfaction. This can be seen quite clearly in the totally false religious ideal both of the charismatic movement and the various forms of Christian meditation: all of them promise (and give very quickly) an experience of contentment and peace. But this is not the Christian ideal at all, which, if anything, may be summed up as a fierce battle and struggle.

Orthodox Christians! Hold fast to the grace which you have; never let it become a matter of habit; never measure it by merely human standards or expect it to be logical or comprehensible to those who understand nothing higher than what is human. Let all true Orthodox Christians strengthen themselves for the battle ahead, never forgetting that in Christ the victory is already ours.

Fr Seraphim Rose+

Time to Fast

May your Great Lent be profitable. Spiritually, of course.
“…if you cannot be in control of your stomach, if this simple sack of flesh is the ruler your life, how can you hope to be in control of more complex physiology, or your mind, or your soul?! This is not even a purely religious matter but a matter of being a human being. I once heard some teenagers bragging about breaking a fast as if it were some accomplishment to eat a hotdog or bacon on a fasting day. In reality, it is simply the mark of an individual who lacks self-control and is ruled by his gut—nothing at all to brag about. If I were that person, I would not advertise this embarrassing infantile quality and try to work on developing more self-discipline.”

Sveshnikov, Sergei. Fasting for Non-Monastics

Our continual mistake

“Our continual mistake is that we do not concentrate on the present day, the actual hour, of our life; we live in the past or in the future; we are continually expecting the coming of some special moment when our life will unfold itself in its full significance. And we do not notice that life is flowing like water through our fingers, sifting like precious sand from a loosely fastened bag.”
— Fr. Alexander Elchaninov