However, this is a problem of not only spiritual life, but also life in general. A modern man is pathologically incapable of building a life on the basis of systematicity and constancy. He is always in a hurry, always on the go, he does everything spontaneously, situationally. This is clearly seen in the conditionally generally accepted attitude towards such a phenomenon as change. If a few decades ago it was perceived as something inevitable, but not very desirable, and the well-being of life in a certain sense was characterized by its regularity, now change is not only a positive phenomenon, but it is also in some way desirable. The phrase “there is no change in life” on the lips of many now sounds more like a complaint.
According to the logic of things, by becoming a practicing Christian, a modern person must adapt, especially since the rhythm of church life is extremely systematic. There is a prayer rule every morning and evening, two fast days a week, every Sunday in a church, the same fasts and feast days every year. It would seem that the most inconsistent person, having lived in such a rhythm for a year or two, will unavoidably begin to lead a measured lifestyle, gradually turning into a balanced and solid person, but, as it often happens, it is the obvious that turns out to be incredible.
Any priest will tell you that the sins of inconstancy in spiritual life occupy an honorable place in absolutely every confession, and the struggle to enter into the church rhythm of life, even among very calm people, drags on for many years.
Let us at least pay attention to how we usually spend Christmas and Pascha – the feast days that are preceded by many days of fasting. How many manage not to turn the period of Bright Week or Christmas time into days of relaxation, of “rest” from fasting and, as a result, spiritual neglect? At the end of the next such period, it will be most relevant to talk about it.
By fasting we naturally mobilize. We put efforts on improving ourselves, take control of our own desires and force ourselves to live a little more spiritually than usual. We strongly control our thoughts, words and intentions, we carefully prepare for confession. We strive to meet Christmas or Pascha with a pure heart and conscience. However, all this requires a lot of tension from us, and a person is incapable of living in constant tension. Therefore, it is quite normal if, at the end of the fast, our strictness towards ourselves weakens somewhat. And this is in the order of things, because the tension that is natural for fasting cannot be constant. However, relaxing the tension and complete rest are two different things. But as soon as the temptation of complete rest in one way or another threatens everyone, it is worth knowing what to oppose to it.
First of all, it is necessary to learn to feel and appreciate that special spiritual joy that we partake in, experiencing Christmas or the Resurrection of Christ with the Church. Let us recall the words of Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh that, being born and resurrected annually in the Church, Christ must be born and risen in our souls. We prepare ourselves for this by fasting; we participate in this by celebrating. When a person is sensitive to spiritual joy, accepts it as a gift from God and keeps it as a great value, he will not allow himself to relax completely. Any relaxation, whether mental or physical, deprives the soul of joy, without which the feast day depreciates, is reduced to the level of everyday life.
In addition, a properly conducted fast is always a change in the pace of one’s life. We learn to live measuredly and thoughtfully. We think about God more often, we listen more attentively to ourselves. And this skill is the little thing that does not require us to strain during fasting. There is no need to rush to part with it as soon as the fast ends. We should not hurry to celebrate a feast day, eagerly diving into the hustle and bustle. The joy of the feast day is surprisingly harmoniously combined with the calmness of the mood of the fast. If we save it, we would simply not want to relax.
It is also important to not let fasting become a strain for us in the midst of neglect. If a person spends most of his time in carelessness, straining his strength for fasting only once or twice a year, then he will spend the entire fast with one feeling: wishing it to end as soon as possible and to return to the usual carelessness. So our, so to speak, everyday asceticism is extremely useful even during the feast days – the good habit of regular prayer, abstinence and orderliness will not allow you to relax beyond measure.
However, it is necessary to develop such skill with reasoning. Life is unpredictable and generous with surprise. This directly affects the person. One day we are full of energy, the next we are ready to collapse from fatigue. Sometimes there is more than enough free time, and sometimes there is no time to eat normally. At times, we have a lot of strength, and at other times, getting out of bed is almost a feat. It is clear that even a fifteen-minute prayer rule in the morning and evening, two fast days a week, every Sunday visit to the church and taking Holy Communion once every two weeks for life in modern conditions is not always possible for everyone. Hence the conclusion: a Christian should designate for himself a certain critical limit, which he will not allow himself to break either sick, or tired, or busy. For example, let it be two or three prayers from the prayer rule, but they will be read even with a temperature of 40 degrees, let it be communion once a month, but this will be observed even when working seven days a week. This again disciplines, and that which disciplines, be it even an inconspicuous trifle, always prevents complete relaxation.
In conclusion. Have you noticed that the situation with voluntary tension and subsequent relaxation happens to us much more often than twice a year? Roughly the same thing happens when we fast before Holy Communion. For several days we intensely guard ourselves from sin, pray more, and fast. And then we take communion and by the end of the day we return to our usual life with our usual sins. It seems that if we learn to spend at least as much time in reverence after communion as we fast, it will be much easier for us not to succumb to the temptation to completely relax on feast days.
Translated by pravmir.com
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