With whatever inner disposition we begin any task—that is how we will carry it out. It is the same for the fast: with whatever disposition we enter the fast—that is probably how we will go through it. That means that we need to relate to the first week of Lent with particular responsibility.
True fasting is putting away evil deeds. Forgive your neighbor his offences, forgive him his debts. “Do not fast in judgments and fights.” You may not eat meat, but you devour your brother. You may not drink wine, but you do not refrain from offence. You may wait till evening to take food, but you spend the day in places of judgment.
Poor Lent! How much chiding, insult, and persecution it endures! But you see, it still stands, by the grace of God. And how else could it be? It has strong support! The Lord fasted, the Apostles fasted, and quite a lot at that, as the Apostle Paul said of himself, in fastings often (2 Cor. 11:27). And all the saints kept strict fasts, so that if we had an opportunity to look over the habitations of paradise we would not find there a single inhabitant who was alien to fasting.
Let us keep the Fast not only by refraining from food, but by becoming strangers to all the bodily passions; that we who are enslaved to the tyranny of the flesh may become worthy to partake of the Lamb, the Son of God, slain of His own will for the sake of the world, and spiritually may celebrate the feast of the Savior’s Resurrection from the dead. So shall we be raised on high in the glory of the virtues, and through our righteous actions we shall give joy to the Lord who loves mankind (Aposticha at Vespers for Wednesday).
Vainglory and its offspring, hypocrisy, are ruinous at their very root—they deprive a person of all heavenly reward, representing the vain human praise he has chosen and desired as the only reward. The Lord condemned vainglorious hypocrites.
When we loved sin, these sins were living boughs on the tree of our life and they fed from it. When we turned away from them, became disgusted with them, repented and confessed, we thereby severed them from ourselves. At the moment of absolution they fell away from us. Now they are dry branches, and the Lord comes to scorch in us this forbearance of transgression. Through the absolution of sins He is preparing a worthy dwelling place for Himself in us. —St. Theophan the Recluse
Pravoslavie.ru asked several pastors to give a few words about what is the main thing, in their view, that should fill a Christian’s life in the days of Great Lent, to offer something from personal experience, to help those Christians engulfed by cares to determine their spiritual program—the maximum and minimum—during this time.
Today we enter upon the observance of Lent, the season now presented to us in the passage of the liturgical year. An appropriately solemn sermon is your due so that the word of God, brought to you through my ministry, may sustain you in spirit while you fast in body and so that the inner man, thus refreshed by suitable food, may be able to accomplish and to persevere courageously in the disciplining of the outer man. For, to my spirit of devotion, it seems fitting that we, who are about to honor the Passion of our crucified Lord in the very near future, should fashion for ourselves a cross of the bodily pleasures in need of restraint.
Fifty years after the death of St Theodore, the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363), wanting to commit an outrage upon the Christians, commanded the city-commander of Constantinople during the first week of Great Lent to sprinkle all the food provisions in the marketplaces with the blood offered to idols. St Theodore appeared in a dream to Archbishop Eudoxius, ordering him to inform all the Christians that no one should buy anything at the marketplaces, but rather to eat cooked wheat with honey (koliva).