Saturday, March 9, 2019

Great Lent: The Path of Following Christ Metropolitan Ioann of St. Petersburg and Ladoga

The True Nature of Fasting
About Great Lent
What Should I Do During Great Lent?

The path of Christ is the path of every Christian. And I also went to tell you that the path that Christ the Savior followed is the path of every one of us Christians.

When the Lord called us into the bosom of the Church, when we received Holy Baptism, and then at a given moment were found worthy of grace, when the Divine light touched our hearts, then we felt an extraordinary joy and, as it were, found ourselves in the Upper Room with Christ. Then everything was luminous and joyful, because the Lord strengthened our spiritual and bodily powers, so that we tasted and knew how good the Lord is.

But out path did not end there. We followed Christ further. We followed the path of teaching, when we had to justify that Divine joy, that Divine grace, which had visited our hearts in the beginning of our ascetic struggle.

Here we, like the Apostles in their time, and like Christ, encountered all kinds of hardships, all kinds of difficult circumstances, and even began to waver. Or, like Christ’s followers of little faith, we even fell asleep at the moment of spiritual trials.

But in order to triumph over sin, in order decisively to establish good in our hearts, we are required to follow Christ even beyond the Garden of Gethsemane. We are required to continue on the path to the house of the high priests Annas and Caiaphas and to go to the Pretoria, to Pontius Pilate, and to hear the terrible words: “Crucify, Crucify Him!”

Then the path will lead us to Golgotha, so that we would be crucified with Christ with our passions and lusts. On this path, we are buried along with the Lord. And only after this will the resurrection of our soul take place. Only then will come the triumph of good in our hearts. And our spiritual rest will be even more established when we, having gone the way of the cross, will receive the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

This is what we should feel and experience on our salutary path. This path is difficult, but it is essential to follow it. To follow it, in spite of hardships and distress – both from our neighbors, and from our own sinful habits… Sometimes we will not even know what to do. But if we will zealously keep to the path of Christ and, calling upon Divine help, will go fearlessly to Golgotha even to be buried along with Christ, then the Lord will send down upon us His Divine grace, strengthen our weak forces, and help us to overcome all our sinful passions, implanting in their place good habits that will help us to attain to everlasting life with our Lord Jesus Christ.