In the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, One God -amen-
I wanted to take some time in the midst of this blessed season of Lent to offer my prayers and encouragement to all my Orthodox Christian brothers and sisters. Regardless of whether we are Eastern Orthodox or Oriental Orthodox, we all serve Christ the Lord and trust in the redeeming waters of baptism and the saving Cross for hope of eternal salvation. We are all living in a world that is suffering from sin and that is full of tribulation and sorrow. We each struggle to live out the Christian life and the Christian calling. We may at times have different opinions and passionate views, but in the presence of the Cross we are all impoverished sinners who desperately need one another.
During Lent the devil is very busy. As I strive to be faithful in prayer and fasting, I often feel more discouraged than uplifted. But I try to remember that this is the devil's agenda. He lies to us, telling us that our prayers and fasts are of no avail. Why is it that there seems to me more temptation, more strife in my home, and more distracting thoughts intruding upon my prayers during this time of Lent? It is certainly because satan knows that we are drawing nearer to God, and he does not like this.
So, I wanted to start a thread that would help us encourage one another during this time. Please contribute to this discussion by relating positive and encouraging things that you are learning or experiencing during this time of Lent. We spend enough time debating and arguing (I am perhaps the most guilty of this), so let us spend this time uplifting and encouraging one another.
One thing I have learned (and am still learning), is that my own opinions and passionate views are not very powerful or productive spiritually. I cannot argue anyone into the Kingdom, but perhaps I can love them into the Kingdom. I am trying to temper my words while keeping the passion of divine Truth alive within me. Please pray for me.
This is my first Lent as a baptized Orthodox Christian. I feel like a big failure when I compare myself to others. But I try to rest in the grace and goodness of God, and ask Him to help me persevere when I fail. I am reminded of the disciples who followed Our Lord when He was on the earth. There was so much they didn't understand, and many of them turned back to the world. The disciples encountered difficult and frightening times, and they no longer knew the security of their former life. Our Lord's teachings often went over their heads, and they often struggled to understand. But they intuitively knew that in the presence of Christ there was the greatest blessing and surest security. So they followed Him- in doubt, in fear, in weakness, but ultimately in Faith.
And is this not the simplicity to which we are called? The fulfillment of our greatest needs is Our Lord, and in His holy presence we are spiritually safe. We are not safe from temptations, trials, suffering, the attacks of satan, or the wickedness of the world. But in nearness to Our Lord we are safe from our own sin and our own failures. For in Christ, we have hope and fogiveness. In Him we have the ability to persevere through the greatest of difficuties and the worst of personal failures. And in Our blessed Orthodox Church, we have the sacraments and teachings to heal us and preserve our souls.
I just wanted to offer these humble words of encouragement to one and all. Please do offer your personal stories or messages of encouragement on this thread. We all need to be uplifted and reminded of God's grace and strength. Let us bear one another's burdens through mutual edification and our prayers for each other. Let us use our words to heal and uplift during this time of spiritual renewal.
May Our Lord and Our Lady bless you.