Archpriest Artemy Vladimirov, “No One Will Take Away The Treasure Of Your Heart”
Great Lent is not the time of complaint, sorrow, and seeming piety. Rational abstinence from greasy and heavy foods helps free our spirit. Lent is the time of repentance and internal joy when our heart is filled with deep prayer.
However, the end of lent should not send us back to the shallow external joy. The Church makes our life sublime and superb and all her feasts and celebrations are different from secular, noisy and often superficial festivities. Pascha, on the other hand, is the feast of feasts and the holiday of holidays. The grace of the Holy Resurrection of Christ comes and every minute of our life becomes eternally important, and “the day lasts more than a hundred years.”
Finishing the fast and catching the wave of the Bright Week, a Christian does not lose the skills they tried to gain.
If we continue to talk with Our Heavenly Father secretly in our heart, control our thoughts and behavior and not let ourselves become attached to any wordly thing; if our joy is to keep our thoughts and feelings towards the Lord, to be humble, pure in heart, and have sympathy, compassion, and concern for our neighbors, no one will take away our heavenly treasure except for ourselves.
In my opinion, it is very important to be childlike. And more so because the Lord said, “Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3).
What is the difference between children and adults? Children are capable of feeling joy at the beauty of this world and they are not bored with themselves. They are not capable of holding a grudge for a long time. With excess energy they move fast, are eager to do a good deed, and are amused by the world of nature…
The main characteristic of a Christian is understanding people. It is the to feel what people want and understand their devotion and purpose in life. St. Seraphim of Sarov gave an excellent advice on this: speak about sublime things with a spiritual person and with a worldly person behave accordingly. In other words, one should be able to address topics which are of interest to one’s neighbor, and not appear to be “living under a rock.”
One should be able to talk about different topics with different people. The most crucial thing is to be interested in the person we are having a conversation with and to sympathize with them. Then their hearts will respond with incomprehensible sweetness and peace.
Everyone likes to be treated gently and all the more so a modern person who often lives in a certain vacuum of alienation burying themselves in their iPhones and iPads. They are similar to Kay in the kingdom of the Snow Queen.
That is why we certainly feel sad when lent ends. The Lenten period itself enables us to spend more time in the church and to pray from our heart. However, the joy of the Resurrection of Christ fills every hour and moment of our lives. Whether we are among our family and friends, reading our favorite book, or interacting with our children, we are called to proliferate the grace of the risen Lord Jesus Christ.
Father Dimitry Turkin, “To Learn Spiritual Joy”
Everything in this life runs its course eventually. Lent ends and a feast begins with its spiritual exultation and spiritual joy. Conversations with our neighbors and various festivity are available for Christians and are allowed.
However, we value everything we have gained in our heart in a kind of “piggy box of spiritual achievements,” even if these achievements are small and insignificant.
We have learned patience, humility, and love for our neighbors. How should we preserve all that we have acquired when lent is over? We humbled ourselves and were patient during the fast, how will we fast when Pascha is here? For whose sake and what purpose should we be humble?
Suvorov, the great commander, said, “What is difficult in training will become easy in a battle.” In my personal opinion, lent is training and combat begins when lent is over. This is a true test to see what one has learned.
However, according to the saying, “difficult in training” it should be easy in a battle. In other words, everything we have learned during a fast we can and should apply after it is over. All techniques and inner spiritual practices are not a spiritual effort anymore. Prayer comes freely and sincerely without much of an act of will. All of this is expected from us when the time of spiritual training ends.
Many times a feast comes and with that comes pain. In fact, when a person had a non-fasting meal, sometimes other passions attack them, which this person might not have been aware of during the fast.
One has learned a good deal and managed to overcome dismay and irritability. However, strangely enough, a feast begins and these passions seize this person again.
It would seem that everything is good: the belly is full, the eyes are happy, but there is some irritation in one’s heart. It is not that it has to necessarily happen, but we cannot really celebrate spiritually due to human inexperience and weakness.
One should learn to always preserve spiritual determination even when the fast ends. How to accomplish it? To what extent is it difficult? Only the person who has tried it is able to answer these questions.
What kind of determination is it? It is determination to concentrate and to not lose oneself in celebration so that one forgets anything or anyone. One should learn to celebrate in a spiritual way.
Certainly, a person learns this by experience over the years. However, beginners should humble themselves more. They should see a foundation for humble attitude towards others in their own imperfections. It is the same attitude which they had during lent. This patient attitude towards others should be preserved following the days when one has already eaten everything that is allowed.
Our joy will not falter, but only increase. Today’s fast is only one step of this ascent. There will be other fasts like the Apostles’ and the Dormition fasts. Each of them is a small step, which one should make one way or another.
It will be difficult but it should not upset us when we do not meet people that we expected to see with us on those steps. Yes, unfortunately, when we begin our path of ascension, we part ways with illusions at first and then with various pleasures, with people that we loved and who were our friends.
When we learn to part ways, we will understand that God’s Providence is in it, even though we will probably not fully comprehend it ourselves. It is pain and suffering when we separate from people that we love due to not agreeing with them but we should learn to overcome this.
Unfortunately, people do not like Christians in the world, because they are different. Christ and the Gospel testify to this: we are from this world, but we have to part ways with it. One should not be afraid of this.
The reason is that while separating from the world one is moving towards Christ. One meets Him and He meets, supports and helps this person. This is the best meeting that can take place on earth. Pascha is this very meeting and there will be more such meetings.
Wish you joy.
It was recorded by Daria Mendeleeva.
Translated from the Russian