May 2017 Letter
For these joyful days of Holy Resurrection and Holy Fifties, we quote from an article of our holy father St. John Chrysostom entitled “Celebrating Easter”, as if he is addressing the church in the twenty first century!
“After we have laid down from our shoulders the burden of fasting, we should not leave its fruits to spoil, for it is possible to take away the burden of fasting without ceasing to spoil its fruits. The tiredness is over, but our attention towards the results of our struggle should not end. The forty days lent is over, but I hope the piety continues on and moreover I hope the lent doesn’t end. Let no one be scared, for I would say this not to announce to you the beginning of another holy forty days fast, but to tell you that you must remain in the path of virtue. Physical fasting is over, but spiritual fasting remains. The second is better than the first, and first happened for the second.
“As I told you during fasting, a person cannot be considered fasting even though he practices fasting. So now I tell you also, how it is possible for a person to “fast” although he is not fasting. What I am saying could seem strange, but I will explain to you how it is possible that a person is not fasting even though he practices fasting, which happens when he abstains from eating and does not refrain from sin.
“On the other hand, how can a person be fasting while he does not practice fasting? This is when he eats freely different foods, and at the same time he fasts by avoiding the taste of sin, which is the best and easiest way of fasting.
“Many find an excuse for not fasting, arguing that physical fasting brings serious illnesses and terrible turmoil. Someone might say: “my health is weakened by water-boiled food. I can not be filled by vegetables.” I have heard many of these excuses during the fast, but no one can say anything like this about spiritual fasting. So now that the fast has ended, sit down to the table, eat meat and no one will hinder you, taste everything freely, just stay away from sin. Have you seen that this spiritual fast is easy for everyone? You can not give excuses for physical weakness; for this fast is a pride of the spirit.”
Asking you to remember the whole church in your prayers, and may the blessings of St. Mary & St. Mercurius, the blessings of the holy resurrection and the Holy 50 days be with us always.
Belleville, May 1, 2017