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

“Whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33 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

"My son, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live." (Proverbs 7:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

“Only one sin is nowadays severely punished: the attentive observance of the traditions of our Fathers. For that reason the good ones are thrown out of their places and brought to the desert.” (ep. 243)