In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit!
Dear fathers, brothers and sisters. The The First Week of Great Lent
“>first week of Great Lent is over, and everyone who spent this week in ascetic labors will receive their reward. It is impossible to force anyone to keep a fast. If a person is forcibly deprived of food and is forced to perform an ascetic labor, he will not receive any rewards, and there will be no benefit from this and no changes for his soul. These will be received only by those who wished to perform the ascetic labor of fasting for the sake of Christ, for the sake of their salvation and for the sake of imitating the Lord and the saints, who, in spite of everything, strove to observe everything that they had planned for the fasting period, both in the austerity of life and their treatment of other people. And the severity of fasting is determined by whether we have enough strength to communicate with our On True Fasting and Love of NeighborWithout love, a Christian is not a Christian. And Christianity is not Christianity.”>neighbors with love. And if everything annoys us and we cannot cope with ourselves, then we should think about the reasons, because it is more important to behave as Christians with our relatives and colleagues.
Hieromonk Innokenty (Prisadkov)
But blessed is he who has managed to observe the former and the latter: both the severity of fasting and Christian love in his heart. The Christians of the city of Constantinople fasted so diligently in 362 A.D. that Emperor Julian the Apostate, overwhelmed with malice and anger because of what was happening (he had been a Christian since birth, but then had betrayed his faith and begun to worship false gods), was burning with hatred for Christians. Wishing to mock the feat of the Christians of Constantinople who boldly struggled in the first week of Great Lent and planned to eat food at the end of it, he ordered that blood from sacrifices to idols be secretly sprinkled on all the food being sold at the markets of Constantinople. But the Lord through His saint, Greatmartyr Theodore the Tyro (“the Recruit”)In memory of this occurrence, the Orthodox Church annually celebrates the holy Great Martyr Theodore the Recruit on the first Saturday of Great Lent.
“>Greatmartyr Theodore the Tyro (“the Recruit”), who in 306 had been burned at the stake for his firm confession of faith, warned His faithful children. St. Theodore Tyro appeared in a dream to Archbishop Eudoxius of Constantinople and informed him about the emperor’s insidious plan. Then all the Christians were commanded to eat only boiled wheat with honey throughout the week and not to go to the market. In memory of that great miracle and the zealous fasting of the Christians of Constantinople, every year at the end of the first week of Great Lent we celebrate a prayer service to Greatmartyr Theodore the Tyro with gratitude to him and with the faith that true fasting is never put to shame, but the Lord covers the faster with His power, giving him spiritual joy and strength. The first week of Great Lent is like the sowing of spiritual seeds, the entire Lenten period is like the growth of the seeds when we cultivate them, and on Pascha we receive the harvest of our Lent. May it be so. May the first week be the sowing of spiritual seeds, the whole of Lent—their growth, and Pascha—a great jubilation when we meet the Risen Lord here in the church, at the night service in the purity of our souls, in the indescribable joy of the feast and in anticipation of uniting with the Lord in the sacrament of Holy Communion. Amen.