The Three Gifts of The Great Fast

Originally appeared at: Orthodox Christianity

Why is the pre-Pascha fast called “Great?”

I believe it’s not so much because of its forty-day duration as it is because of its importance in the life of the disciples of Christ.

What is the purpose of fasting as a commandment of God? Its purpose is our unity with the great and Omnipotent God.

Great art Thou, O Lord, Who workest wonders!”

Entering in upon the field of the springtime Quadragesima, we expect to receive the necessary wondrous and grace-filled help from our Savior to gain victory over ourselves.

THE FIRST GIFT of the Redeemer to a man who fasts with reason is the ceaseless attention of the mind to all that is happening in his soul. As long as a Christian is scattered, he will never be able to recognize the intrigues of the evil spirit or take note of the activity of the ruinous passions of pride, lust, and anger.

THE SECOND GIFT of the Lord to His attentive disciple is heartfelt prayer. Like a sharpened sword, it easily severs all mental pretexts and external temptations, making Christians invulnerable to the attacks of the enemy of mankind.

THE THIRD GIFT of the Resurrected Savior is humility and thanksgiving. Indeed, the realization of our infirmity attracts grace to the heart. And receiving the plentiful help of God impels the soul to pour itself out in unceasing thanksgiving to our Almighty and merciful Heavenly Father.

Having received these gifts from the generous right hand of the Lord as a reward for our meager but sincere zeal, let us take special care not to thoughtlessly lose them, but to joyfully lay them at the feet of the Victor over death on the day of the Bright Resurrection of Christ, and He will undoubtedly manifest to us all the unfathomable fullness of His love!

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