After the busy season of Nativity and Theophany, it is important to take a spiritual breath and regroup. These major feasts have passed, the decorations in church and home have been taken down, the newly illumined have removed their baptismal gowns, the relatives are gone, and the children are back in school.
We made an effort to step out of time and away from the world during this season. We confronted the conflicting priorities of our too-often divided life, split between Christian and worldly existence, and for us weak spiritual athletes, it is exhausting.
But the effort is worth it. And as for athletes who are bruised and spent after valiant competition, there is a time to rest and recuperate in preparation for the next tournament. We’re not surprised that we are sore and tired. Neither do we confuse these minor inconveniences with defeat. The sweat and blood and pain are proof of our competition, of our having entered the fray without hesitation and in anticipation of victories and wisdom-producing defeats.
And there is time to rest. For the athlete, wise recuperation is as important to training as is the exertion of practice and competition. Our activity level drops so that there is time for mental and physical peace. Our diet is enriched with nutritious foods. Our goal is rest and recovery without letting sloth or gluttony enter in. Those passing pleasures only make training more difficult when our actual need for recuperation is complete.
We rested after the feasts and now we begin to prepare for renewed exertion. This means refocusing our private prayers now that the demand of many corporate services is over. We settle back into a more undisturbed private rule and the simple frequency of corporate prayer on Saturday night, Sunday morning, with perhaps a mid-week vespers to beat the Sunday-to-Sunday swing.
Likewise the fast-free days are over. We celebrated freely and ate well from Nativity to Theophany, and now it is time to fall back onto the dietare fundamentals of spiritual training. On Wednesdays and Fridays we practice allowing the soul to reign over the body, knowing that the strength developed when governing the mouth is the same that governs the heart.
We must be intentional and well coached in our spiritual athleticism. Being strong in soul is not much different from being strong in body. Take some time to recall the days of your spiritual “youth,” when Christian living was easy, exciting, and full of zeal. Talk to a spiritual coach and line out an exercise routine of spiritual fundamentals. And then persevere! Spiritual strength and fitness are within reach, always.
Source: St Lawrence Orthodox Church