Thoughts on Great Lent
By Michael Haldas, February 27, 2017
“Lent is a time for those who are at the “curious” stage to explore the faith deeper. For those who are at the “desire” stage, it is a time to deepen the commitment. For those who are at the “convicted” stage, it is a time to give greater witness. For those out recruiting, it is time to double efforts and recruit even more people to “come and see” the power of God to transform lives.” (Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis)
“First and foremost, then, Lent is a time for interior struggle…Within our minds, we experience life as a constant flood of turbulent thoughts…Let us use the time of the fast to reorder our thoughts, laying down a new beginning and gaining the skills to contend for the faith…” (Dynamis 2/17/2015)
“Fortunately for us, the church recognized from its earliest days that we would need regular periods of reflection and renewed effort if we were to free ourselves from the relentless grip of worldly cares, to once again imitate the example of Christ and reflect it in our lives. It did so by developing the season of Lent, a season which invites us to renew our concentration on prayer, fasting, and almsgiving which lie at the very heart of Christian living.” (Father Andrew Demotses)
“Lent exists not to escape life, but to begin to live by escaping the many drugs with which we dull our spiritual sensibilities.” (Archimandrite Robert Taft, SJ)
“Today let me let God open me up to the life-giving changes unfolding now, in the Lenten season. I need not be impatient or self-justifying in my “progress,” as the Pharisee was (Lk 18: 11-12), but rather open up to God’s life-giving mercy, as did the tax-collector (Lk 18: 13). Because it is God Alone Who sees me as I am, and where I am, and it is His to “justify” my journey in His light, when I let Him be Who He is, the one source of Life and Justice.” (Sr. Dr. Vassa Larin)
Thoughts on Fasting
By Michael Haldas, February 28, 2017
“Many Christians, unaware of the great value of fasting, either keep the fast with difficulty or reject it altogether. We should not be afraid to fast but embrace it with joy.” (St. John Chrysostom)
“Fasting helps keep control of the body…and prevents the body from disturbing the mind when it is trying to enter and remain in the presence of God.” (Saint Anthony)
“Students are not quite sure what to say when I ask them how a practice like fasting contributes to the learning of love. I explain that fasting is linked to something we consume every day, food; that every time we fast, it’s an occasion to bring God to our awareness; and that this awareness helps sustain a relation with God that makes love possible.” (Aristotle Papanikolaou)
“Do we think of Lent and fasting as what we must give up and requirements or rules we must follow; or do we understand it as a means for gaining increased spiritual growth and well-being. Seeing fasting as all about giving up rather than gaining is actually distorted thinking. We learn early on in Scripture about how our thinking got distorted due to sin and that our first impulse is typically to run away from God or do opposite of what God would have us do even though is best for us. Fasting is about gaining through giving. We voluntarily give up so that we may gain.” (Giving Up or Gaining – How We Experience Lent and Fasting)
“True fasting is refraining from evil, temperance of tongue, suppression of anger, and excision of lust, evil speaking, lying, and oath breaking.” (St. Basil the Great)
~Michael Haldas, https://www.ancientfaith.com/contributors/michael_haldas.
Michael Haldas is an author, a religious educator and a speaker. He wrote Sacramental Living: Understanding Christianity as a Way of Life (published by Eastern Christian Publications), a book which he presented special editions of as gifts to Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew in private audiences. Michael is also published monthly in Theosis Magazine and he has authored several Orthodox Christian themed articles for various publications. Additionally, he has recorded and contributed to multiple YouTube, DVD and CD educational projects. He teaches adult religious education and high school Sunday school at the Greek Orthodox Church of St. George in Bethesda, Maryland and has worked with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese Religious Education Department to create educational lessons and materials.