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

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 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.

Nativity of the Mother of God

Your nativity, O Virgin Mother of God, * heralded joy to all the world; * for from you has dawned the Sun of Righteousness, Christ our God, * and, having annulled the curse, He gave the blessing * and by destroying Death He granted us eternal life. (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.

Through your holy nativity, O Immaculate One, * Joachim and Anna were freed from the reproach of childlessness, * and Adam and Eve from the corruption of death. * Delivered from the guilt of sin, your people celebrate this as they cry out to you: * "The barren woman gives birth to the Mother of God, the Nourisher of our Life." (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Nativity of the Mother of God on September 8th.

Random Proverb

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

"And the second commandment of the Teaching; 2. Thou shalt not commit murder, thou shalt not commit adultery, thou shalt not commit paederasty, thou shalt not commit fornication, thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not practise magic, thou shalt not practise witchcraft, thou shalt not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten."

Ante-Nicene Fathers: Volume VII, Apostolic Teachings and Constitutions, Chapter II. - The Second Commandment: Gross Sin Forbidden.