Many met the current post in unusual and tragic conditions. But how we spend this fast is up to us.
After the invasion of Ukraine, the world split into several parts – some are fighting, others are suffering from hostilities, others are not shy in their expressions, supporting one or another side of the conflict and defending their point of view.
Great Lent and War. It is difficult to find more incompatible things. From time immemorial, fasting has been designed to slow down a person, reduce his fuss, make him peer into himself, focus on the soul. War is a kind of quintessence of disharmony, the focus of fuss and anxiety. It moves to sometimes unnecessary movement, makes you tense up and be afraid – what kind of post is there …
But on the other hand – when to fast, if not at this difficult time. Let us recall the Great Lent of past years: the tension of the first week, the joy of repentance and participation in the Eucharist, attempts to keep ourselves in the same concentration and vigor as in the first week. Relaxation, when in the middle of Lent, life enters its usual fussy and careless course. Fatigue from fasting: “Well, when is Easter already?” and complaints that lean food no longer climbs into the throat. But this year is different…
Suddenly a war: a real one, with all the horrors and troubles, which has already come to the house of some and is standing outside the threshold of others. In an instant, everything depreciated, the usual stability and well-fed confidence disappeared. Somehow it immediately became obvious that in life there is nothing and no one to rely on, except for God. Everything is in the hands of the Lord, and we, only recently confident and independent, are completely dependent on His will and His mercy.
Now, more than ever, it is felt how close the Lord is to us, and how insignificant we are before Him, how great is His mercy to us. A grace that only two weeks ago we took for granted and did not even think to appreciate.
The time has come for repentance, the great Fortecost is a suitable and necessary period. Therefore, Christians simply need to go into fasting – not like a year, two or three years ago, but as the Church calls – with desire and zeal, with readiness and self-giving, with faith and sincerity.
Yes, it’s restless. But who, if not the Orthodox, should know that no one has promised anyone tomorrow. Not before, not now. Neither in war nor in peacetime. At all times, the only time at the disposal of man was exclusively today, or rather, the present moment of this day. Has the war changed anything? No. But the war changed many other things.
Now you do not have to look for opportunities for good deeds, there are many suffering neighbors around. Weak old people, forced unemployed, refugees, and all those who are now unable to solve elementary problems. Their suffering is actually not only their suffering. They are our area of responsibility. They are our opportunity for good deeds and our cure for fear, cowardice, greed, selfishness.
Having allowed us severe trials, God called us to repentance. But He also gave us literally everything for this repentance. Little is required of us. First of all, those who were taken by surprise by the war, to meet the test with courage and steadfastness. When people massively succumb to fear, panic, despair or hatred, we have a huge responsibility: to be an example of calmness, patience and faith. After all, if it will be impossible to rely on Christians in a critical situation, then on whom then?
People who read and know the Holy Scriptures know that wars are allowed by God for the repentance of peoples. Who, if not us, should repent of sins before God and encourage our neighbors to this? And shouldn’t we pray to God for the forgiveness of our sins, for a suffering people, for peace? And with this we entered Great Lent – a period that in itself involves repentance, prayer, and deeds of mercy, writes life expectancy.