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

“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26 ESV)

Scripture

April 15, 2018
Third Sunday of Pascha: Myrrh-bearing Women
- Matins: Mark 16:9-20 (Gospel 3)
- Liturgy: Acts 6:1-7, Mark 15:43-16:8

Third Week of Pascha
- Monday: Acts 6:8-7:5, 47-60, John 4:46-54
- Tuesday: Acts 8:5-17, John 6:27-33
- Wednesday: Acts 8:28-25, John 6:35-39
- Thursday: Acts 8:26-39, John 6:40-44
- Friday: Acts 8:40-9:19, John 6:48-54
- Saturday: Acts 9:19-31, John 15:17-16:2

April 22, 1018
Fourth Sunday of Pascha: Paralytic
- Matins: Luke 24:1-12 (Gospel 4)
- Liturgy: Acts 9:32-42, John 5:1-15

Fourth Week of Pascha
- Monday: Acts 10:1-16, John 6:56-69
- Tuesday: Acts 10:21-33, John 7:1-13
- Wednesday: (Mid-Pentecost) Acts 14:6-18, John 7:14-30
- Thursday: Acts 10:34-43, John 8:12-20
- Friday: Acts 10:44-11:10, John 8:21-30
- Saturday: Acts 12:1-11, John 8:31-42

April 29, 2018
Fifth Sunday of Pascha: Samaritan Woman
- Matins: John 20:1-10 (Gospel 7)
- Liturgy: Acts 11:15-26, 29-30, John 4:5-4:2

Fifth Week of Pascha
- Monday: Acts 12:12-17, John 8:42-51
- Tuesday: Acts 12:25-13:12, John 8:51-59
- Wednesday: Acts 13:13-24, John 6:5-14
- Thursday: Acts 14:20-27, John 9:39-10:9
- Friday: Acts 15:5-34, John 10:17-28
- Saturday: Acts 15:35-41, John 10:27-38

May 6, 2018
Sixth Sunday of Pascha: Blind Man
- Matins: John 20:11-18 (Gospel 8)
- Liturgy: Acts 16:16-34, John 9:1-38

Feasts & Fasts

April
1 - Pascha - Feast of the Resurrection of Christ (Easter Sunday)
1-8 - Bright Week
8 - Second Sunday of Pascha (Apostle Thomas)
15 - Third Sunday of Pascha (Myrrh-Bearing Women)
22 - Fourth Sunday of Pascha (Healing of the Paralytic)
25 - Mid-Pentecost
29 - Fifth Sunday of Pascha (Samaritan Women at the Well)

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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Christ is risen from the dead * trampling down Death by death, * and upon those in the tombs bestowing life! (Troparion)

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

Although You descended into the tomb, O Immortal One, * You destroyed the power of Hades; * You arose as the victor, O Christ God, * proclaiming to the myrrh-bearing women: “Rejoice!” * And granting peace to Your Apostles, * O, You, Who gives resurrection to the fallen. (Kontakion)

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

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

Let not us who would be Christians expect anything else than to be crucified....for to be Christian is to be crucified in this time and in any time since Christ came for the first time. His life is the example and warning to us all. We must be crucified personally,mystically; for trough crucifixion is the only path to resurrection, if we would rise with Christ, we must be humbled with him even to the ultimate humiliation, being devoured and spit forth by the uncomprehending world.... We must be crucified outwardly in the eyes of the world, for Christ's kingdom is not of this world and world cannot bear it, even a single representative, even for the single moment.

Fr Seraphim Rose