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

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

Christ is Born!

Your Nativity, O Christ our God, * has dawned upon the world the light of knowledge. * for through it, those who served the stars * were taught by a star to worship You, the Sun of Righteousness * and to know You, the Dawn from on high. * Glory to You, O Lord! (Troparion, Tone 4)

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

Today the Virgin gives birth to the Transcendent One, * and the earth offers a cave to the Unapproachable One. * Angels and shepherds sing His glory; * Wise Men journey with a star * for there is born for us an infant Child, the God Who is before all ages. (Kontakion, Tone 3)

Random Proverb

"Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her." (Proverbs 8:10,11 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Why do you increase your bonds? Take hold of your life before your light grows dark and you seek help and do not find it. This life has been given to you for repentance; do not waste it in vain pursuits. 

St. Isaac the Syrian