The Nativity Fast

St. John Chrysostom on the True Nature of Fasting 

St. John ChrysostomOn November 15, we began the preparation for the feast of re-creation, the Nativity of Our Lord Jesus Christ by engaging in the struggle of the forty day Fast of St. Philip.

The following are the words of our holy father, John Chrysostom:

"Let us not speak, indeed of such a fast as most persons keep, but of real fasting; not mere abstinence from meats - but from sins, too. For the nature of a fast is such that it does not suffice to deliver those who practice it unless it be done according to a suitable law.

To the end, then, that when we have gone through the labor of fasting we forfeit not the crown of fasting, we should understand how, and after what manner it is necessary to conduct this business; since the Pharisee also fasted, but afterwards went down empty and destitute of the fruit of fasting. The Publican fasted not; and yet he was accepted in preference to him who had fasted.

Since, then, the danger of fasting is so great to those who do not know how they ought to fast, we should learn the laws of this exercise, in order that we may not `run uncertainly' nor `beat the air' nor while we are fighting contend with a shadow. Fasting is a medicine. It is necessary to know the time when it should be applied and the requisite quantity.

The honor of fasting consists not in abstinence from food, but in withdrawal from sinful practices. Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works. What kind of works? If you see a poor man, take pity on him. If you see an enemy, be reconciled to him. If you see a friend gaining honor, envy him not.

For let not the mouth only fast, but also the eye, and the ear, and the foot, and the hands, and all members of the body. Let the hands fast from being pure from rapine and avarice. Let the feet fast by ceasing to run to unlawful spectacles. Let the eyes fast from such as is unlawful or forbidden. Let the ear fast, also. The fasting of the ear consists in refusing to listen to evil speech and calumnies. Let the mouth, too, fast from disgraceful speeches and railings.

Do you wish to correct a brother? Weep; pray to God; taking him aside, admonish, entreat, counsel him! Show your charity toward the sinner. Persuade him that it is from care and anxiety for his welfare, and not from a wish to expose him, that you put him in mind of his sin.

Take hold of his feet; embrace him; be not ashamed, if you truly desire to cure him. Speak evil of no one; hold no one for an enemy; expel from your mouth altogether the evil custom of swearing.

If we use these three precepts during the present Lent (the Nativity fast) and make them a good habit, we shall proceed easier to the end. We shall both reap the fruit of a favorable hope in the present life; and in the life to come we shall stand before Christ with great confidence and enjoy His unspeakable blessings, which God grant that we may be found worthy of, through the grace and love for mankind of Jesus Christ our Lord, with Whom be glory to the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and always and unto ages of ages. Amen."


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Teachings of Christ

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 ESV)


February 25, 2018
Second Sunday of Great Lent
St. Gregory Palamas
- Matins: Luke 24:12-35 (Gospel 5)
- Liturgy: Hebrews 1:10-2:3, Mark 2:1-12 (and for St. Gregory, Hebrews 7:26-8:2, John 10:9-19)

Third Week of Great Lent
- Monday: Isaiah 8:13-9:7, Genesis 6:9-22, Proverbs 8:1-21
- Tuesday: Isaiah 9:9-10:4, Genesis 7:1-5, Proverbs 8:32-9:11
- Wednesday: Isaiah 10:12-20, Genesis 7:6-9, Proverbs 9:12-18
- Thursday: Isaiah 11:10-12:2, Genesis 7:11-8:3, Proverbs 10:1-22
- Friday: Isaiah 13:2-13, Genesis 8:4-21, Proverbs 10:31-11:12
- Saturday: Hebrews 10:32-38, Mark 2:14-17 (and for All Souls: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, John 5:24-30)

March 4, 2018
Third Sunday of Great Lent
Veneration of the Holy Cross
- Matins: Luke 24:36-53 (Gospel 6)
- Liturgy: Hebrews 4:14-5:6, Mark 8:34-9:1

Fourth Week of Great Lent
- Monday: Isaiah 14:24-32, Genesis 8:21-9:7, Proverbs 11:19-12:6
- Tuesday: Isaiah 25:1-9, Genesis 9:8-17, Proverbs 12:8-22
- Wednesday: Isaiah 26:21-27:9, Genesis 9:18-10:1, Proverbs 12:23-13:9
- Thursday: Isaiah 28:14-22, Genesis 10:32-11:9, Proverbs 13:20-14:6
- Friday: Isaiah 29:13-23, Genesis 12:1-7, Proverbs 14:15-26
- Saturday: Hebrews 6:9-12, Mark 7:31-37 (and for All Souls: 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, John 5:24-30)

March 11, 2018
Fourth Sunday of Great Lent
Saint John of the Ladder
- Matins: John 20:1-10 (Gospel 7)
- Liturgy: Hebrews 6:13-20, Mark 9:17-31 (and for St. John: Ephesians 5:9-19, Matthew 4:25-5:12)

Fifth Week of Great Lent
- Monday: Isaiah 37:33-36:6, Genesis 13:12-18, Proverbs 14:27-15:4
- Tuesday: Isaiah 40:18-31, Genesis 15:1-15, Proverbs 15:7-19
- Wednesday: Isaiah 41:4-14, Genesis 17:1-9, Proverbs 15:20-16:9
- Thursday: Isaiah 42:5-16, Genesis 18:20-33, Proverbs 16:17-17:17
- Friday: Isaiah 45:11-17, Genesis 22:1-18, Proverbs 17:17-18:5
- Saturday: Hebrews 9:24-28, Mark 8:27-31 (and for Akathistos Saturday: Hebrews 9:1-7, Luke 10:38-42, 11:27-28)

March 18, 2018
Fifth Sunday of Great Lent
Saint Mary of Egypt
- Matins: John 20:11-18 (Gospel 8)
- Liturgy: Hebrews 9:11-14, Mark 10:32-45

Feasts & Fasts

2 - Encounter of Our Lord, God, and Savior, Jesus Christ with Simeon and Anna
3 - First All-Souls Saturday
4 - Sunday of the Second Coming of Christ (Meat-Fare)
11 - Forgiveness Sunday (Cheese-Fare)
12 - Beginning of the Holy Forty Days Fast
18 - First Sunday of the Great Fast (Sunday of Orthodoxy)
19 - Washington's Birthday (President's Day) (USA)
24 - Second All-Souls Saturday
25 - Second Sunday of the Great Fast (St. Gregory Palamas)

Please pray!

"They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword...." (Hebrews 11:37a)

Please lift up in prayer all those who are persecuted and deprived of liberty, everywhere in the world. Please especially remember the peoples of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Niger - the whole Middle East and Africa - who are literal martyrs for Christ. Also the peoples of Ukraine. They are our brothers, for all are one in Christ.

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Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life, drive away from me the spirit of despondency, carelessness, love of power, and idle chatter. (Prostration)

Rather grant to me, Your servant, the spirit of wholeness of being, humility, patience, and love. (Prostration)

Yes, O Lord and King, grant that I may see my own faults and not condemn my brother; for You are blessed to the ages of ages. Amen. (Prostration)

Random Proverb

"One gives freely, yet grows all the richer; another withholds what he should give, and only suffers want." (Proverbs 11:24 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

What toil we must endure, what fatigue, while we are attempting to climb hills and the summits of mountains! What, that we may ascend to heaven! If you consider the promised reward, what you endure is less. Immortality is given to the one who perseveres; everlasting life is offered; the Lord promises His Kingdom.

St. Cyprian