Metropolitan Anthony Speaks on the Right Way to Finish Great Lent

Lent has come to an end. Holy Week is the last stage on the path to Paschal joy. But let's ask ourselves, are we going through this final pre-Pascha stage in the right way?

For those who have focused their attention on the gastronomic side of fasting, Holy Week is often perceived as the “last spurt” before the moment when “you can eat everything.” And the most holy, most important days, which should be spent in prayerful concentration as much as possible, are darkened by fuss.

A huge amount of food is already being purchased, almost starting from Holy Friday, and sometimes earlier. The preparation of various non-fasting meals begins. On the most prayerful, the most mournful days, the house is filled with the seductive smells of cooking food. How can one pray in such circumstances?

Some people justify themselves by the fact that preparing for the feast day is “sacred”. Indeed, there is nothing sinful about treating yourself and your loved ones with a delicious meal after days of self-restraint.

But the trouble is when it becomes an end in itself. Sometimes it is sad to watch when Holy Pascha, this Feast of Feasts, turns into a feast of the flesh. Usually, after such generous feasts and excessive drinking, it turns out that the stomach is full, but the soul is empty.

Measure is important in both fasting and breaking the fast. It is the same in the preparation for the feast itself.

Sometimes it seems that it is very difficult to get through Lent in a worthy way. But finishing it in a worthy way is often even much harder. Of course, there should be both the joyful Paschal table and the cheerful communication between loved ones after the bright Paschal Liturgy. But how much more beautiful all of this is when prayerful union with the Lord is not lost. When the bright Paschal joy is not obscured by gluttony and drunkenness. And now we are not talking about how unhealthy it is to overeat after many weeks of restraint in food…

Well, now, during Holy Week, I would like to wish all Orthodox Christians not to lose their prayerfulness, not to lose love for their neighbors, and not to lose their sobriety. And then the Lord will not leave us with His mercies.

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