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

“The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45 ESV)

Scripture

October 7, 2018
Twentieth Sunday After Pentecost
- Matins: John 20:19-31 (Gospel 9)
- Liturgy: 1 Galatians 1:11-19, Luke 7:11-16

Twenty-First Week After Pentecost
- Monday: Philippians 4:10-23, Luke 7:36-50
- Tuesday: Colossians 1:1,2,7-11, Luke 8:1-3
- Wednesday: Colossians 1:18-23, Luke 8:22-25
- Thursday: Colossians 1:24-29, Luke 9:7-11
- Friday: Colossians 2:1-7, Luke 9:12-18
- Saturday: 2 Corinthians 3:12-18, Luke 6:1-10

October 14, 2018
Twenty-First Sunday After Pentecost
Holy Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council
- Matins: John 21:1-14 (Gospel 10)
- Liturgy: Galatians 2:16-20, Luke 8:5-15 (21st Sun), Hebrews 13:7-16, John 17:1-13 (Fathers)

Twenty-Second Week After Pentecost
- Monday: Colossians 2:13-20, Luke 9:18-22
- Tuesday: Colossians 2:20-3:3, Luke 9:23-27
- Wednesday: Colossians 3:17-4:1, Luke 9:44-50
- Thursday: Colossians 4:2-9, Luke 9:49-56
- Friday: Colossians 4:10-18, Luke 10:1-15
- Saturday: 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, Luke 7:1-10

October 21, 2018
Twenty-Second Sunday After Pentecost
- Matins: John 21:15-25 (Gospel 11)
- Liturgy: Galatians 6:11-18, Luke 16:19-31 (Slavs), Luke 8:26-39 (Greeks)

Feasts & Fasts

September
1 - Liturgical New Year (7526)
4 - Labor Day (USA & Canada)
8 - The Nativity of our Most Holy Lady, the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary
14 - The Universal Exaltation of the Precious and Life-Giving Cross

October
1 - The Protection of our Most Holy Lady the Mother of God and Ever-Virgin Mary
8 - Columbus Day (USA), Thanksgiving Day (Canada)
15 - Sunday of the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council

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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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

"My son, do not despise the Lord's discipline or be weary of his reproof, for the Lord reproves him whom he loves, as a father the son in whom he delights." (Proverbs 3:11,12 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Do not pray that things may be according to your desires, for your desires are not always in keeping with the will of God. It is better to pray as you were taught, saying: "Thy will be done" (Matthew 6:10). Pray in this way about all things, for He always desires what is good and profitable for your soul, whereas you do not always seek it.

Saint Nilus of Mount Sinai: "153 Texts on Prayer"