“Obedience, fasting, and prayer are laughed at, yet only through them lies the way to real true freedom. I cut off my superfluous and unnecessary desires, I subdue my proud and wanton will and chastise it with obedience, and with God’s help I attain freedom of spirit and with it spiritual joy.” ― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov
Our old unsightly mini-van is dead again this morning. What I thought I’d do today I cannot do. This too is part of fasting: refraining from gorging on, stopping my ears and covering my eyes with frustration. Thy Will Be Done, Thy Will Be Done, Thy Will Be Done, even in the smallest of matters.
Spiritual attentiveness is very difficult for me, as is surrendering my time and self-centered will. But I know deep beneath the chaos of earthly concerns, lusts and ambitions lies a heavenly, unshakeable, oasis of calm for those willing, in faith, to work hard with the help of the Church at pursuing it. Stillness is required – as is lots and lots and lots of constant prayer. Then there’s loving and serving others of course, until it hurts – infringing on my best laid plans, my finances, my hardened pride and ego.
Oh, but I’m not strong enough! I can’t imagine enduring that much fasting, stillness, praying, serving, self-denial, for even another hour, much less forty days. Thinking ahead, and trying to will upon myself discipline I simply do not possess, is not an option.
I am proceeding this frigid Tuesday but one minute at a time, fully aware of my desperate need for continuous aid, forgiveness and direction from Christ. It’s scary to let go of my perceived semblance of control, and yet also mysteriously, paradoxically, freeing.
LordhavemercyLordhavemercyLordhavemercyLordhavemercy, before I open my mouth, begin a new task, feed a negative thought, and upon tasting either joy or disappointment.
Lenten Prayer of St. Ephraim
O Lord and Master of my life,
Grant not unto me a spirit of idleness,
of lust for power,
and of vain speaking.
But bestow upon me, Thy servant,
the spirit of chastity,
and of love.
Yea, O Lord and King,
grant that I may perceive
my own transgressions,
and judge not my brother,
for blessed art Thou
unto ages of ages.