Fr. John's Letter Archives

Enjoy re-reading Fr. John's weekly bulletin letters for the past year.

How successful was Lent?

05-04-2014Fr. John LettersFr. John

Dear Friends,

Now that the Lenten Fast has turned into the Easter Feast we might want to ask ourselves how productive was our Lent? Some of us may be looking back and wondering what difference it all made if any. Did it have any effect? What was the point of all that penance and "giving things up"? It may seem like little growth was had or we just didn't get the Easter infusion of spirituality and grace. Did we make spiritual progress or just go through the motions?

The point of our Lenten practices, particularly fasting was to discipline the body so as to assert the primacy of the spiritual. Now that we have done that we need to tend to the interior effects of fasting and see if it has helped us overcome the corrosive vices that settle quietly in the soul.

I came across this quote by St. John Climacus, a 7th century monk who is a saint in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches:

Let us not believe that an external fast from visible food alone can possibly be sufficient for perfection of heart and purity of body, unless with it there has also been united a fast for the soul. For the soul also has its foods that are harmful...

Slander is its food and indeed one that is very dear to it. A burst of anger also supplies it with miserable food for an hour and destroys it as well with its deadly savor. Envy is a food of the mind, corrupting it with its poisonous juices and never ceasing to make it wretched and miserable at the prosperity and success of another.

Vanity is its food, which gratifies the mind with a delicious meal for a time but afterwards strips it clear and bare of all virtue. Then vanity dismisses it barren and void of all spiritual fruit. All lust and shifty wanderings of heart are a sort of food for the soul, nourishing it on harmful meats but leaving it afterwards without a share of the heavenly bread and of really solid food.

It's time now to start cultivating our virtues especially if they've become rusty virtues. This is the way to put a stop to the vices that have become like a corrosive thread running through the soul. And remember let's not make this a "joyless quest for joy". It can and should be spirited. After all Jesus did tell us: "In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

Now if we can only overcome ourselves...

Love, Fr. John B.