Have you looked at the calendar lately? Have you noticed that we are already past the halfway point of the Holy Forty Days Fast? What have you done to prepare for the upcoming days in which we celebrate the Cross and Resurrection of the Savior?

If you’re still looking to get started we have some suggestions: Fasting, Prayer and Almsgiving.

The Fasting part is pretty straight forward. If you’ve not kept the Fast before (or not kept it well) keep it from today until Pascha. You probably know the rules and certainly that should be the minimum fast that you keep. But the minimum fast is not something really challenging, especially if you can stop at your favorite restaurant for a good fish or lobster meal. Do something more. On the days you fast eat simply prepared foods.

Prayer? Many of us never know how to pray or what to pray. Start with the Lord’s Prayer three times a day (morning, noon and night) and then - if you can - keep the short “Rule of Prayer” every day. If that goes well, try something more – find and dust off the Bible and between now and Pascha read Matthew’s account of the life of Christ (it’s only 28 short chapters!).

Almsgiving? Yes, write a check to help those in need, and make it big enough to cause you to blink twice. If you don’t have ample resources for that then give of your time. Call a local charity and offer to help on Saturday. Two hours is a great start.

Finally, don’t advertise the fact that you are fasting, praying and giving alms. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:4b).

Oh! There is an earthly reward. If you do all this (which is really not all that much) you are going to be really happy with yourself on Pascha.

Teachings of Christ

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’" (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV)

Exaltation of the Cross

Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance; * grant victory to Your Church over her enemies * and protect Your commonwealth by Your Cross. (Troparion - Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Willingly lifted up on the Cross, O Christ God, * bestow Your compassions upon the new commonwealth that bears Your name. * By your power grant joy to Your Church, * granting her victory over her enemies. * May she have your Cross as the weapon of peace * and the invincible ensign of victory. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14th.

Random Proverb

For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Proverbs 2:6 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

[The Lord] is always knocking at the doors of our hearts, that we may open to Him, that He may enter in and rest in Our souls, and we may wash and anoint His feet, and He may make His abode with us. The Lord in that passage reproaches the man who did not wash His feet (Luke 7:44); and again He says elsewhere, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock, if any man will open unto Me, I shall come in unto him" (Rev. 3:20). To this end He endured to suffer many things, giving His own body unto death, and purchasing us out of bondage, in order that He might come to our soul and make His abode with it.. ..His food and His drink, His clothing and shelter and rest is in our souls. Therefore He is always knocking, desiring to enter into us.. Let us then receive Him, and bring Him within ourselves; because He is our food and our drink and our eternal life, and every soul that has not now received Him within and given Him rest, or rather found rest in Him, has no inheritance in the kingdom of heaven with the saints, and cannot enter into the heavenly city.. But Thou, Lord Jesus Christ, bring us thereunto, glorifying Thy name, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, for ever. Amen

St Macarius the Great