Yandex Metrika
The meaning of the Dormition Fast to our spiritual lives

Rising above the routine and doing the will of God

Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok and the priest Sergei Nezhbord

The two-week Dormition Fast has begun. In strictness, it is comparable to the Great Lent. This week, we celebrate the Holy Transfiguration, a beloved feast among the Orthodox faithful, when we consecrate apples, grapes and other gifts of our Lord.

On the eve of the feast, we have an all-night vigil. Next, we serve midnight liturgy at Lysaya Gora, as we have already done for many years. A liturgy and a holy cross procession at the second-highest point in Belarus has thus become our good tradition. It reminds the people of their ascent to heaven, it calls on them to rise above their everyday routine, to distract themselves from the daily news, small worries and everything else that keeps them from seeing light and realising the true meaning of what is happening within and around them. We ask God for the riches of the spirit, not some finite or sensuous gains.

Whatever our immediate desires, we petition our Lord, "May Your will be done." How often do we ask ourselves, in all honesty, "Do you believe? Are you ready to follow the will of God?" Do we fully realise the significance of these questions to our lives? No wonder that we are often confused about our understanding of our life goals and relationships with others. We find it too hard to decide what we genuinely want.

People tend to take their desires for the will of God. Their willfulness often results in great sorrows - from living in the captivity of the sin, from losing their high ground, from losing their freedom. Many continue, as they always have, to lull themselves into thinking, "I am fine. Everybody else lives in the same way." But by so doing, they give up all desire to free themselves and overcome their usual course of things. To be a captive or sin is a disaster.

But the Lord says to us, "Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another." (John 13:34). He calls on us, "Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew 11:29). The Lord makes no secret of His will. He makes it simple and clear for us. He wants us to love, forgive, be good servants of each other, and have peace in our hearts.

God's love is manifested in our ability to notice something good in our neighbour. We share God's love by seeing the image of God in everyone and everything. All too often, however, we find it easier to see our neighbour as a bad person. We notice something in one person, and then in another. Ultimately, then decide that the whole world is up in arms against us. Our weakness will strengthen our enemy, and he will work even harder to lure us off our right path, wreak panic in us and break the peace in our hearts.

If only we could heed to the wisdom of the Scripture warning us that our spirits weaken as we progress, and we need to give them nourishment and reassurance. Corrupted by sin, we stand before God, asking Him for the remission and forgiveness of our sins, so we can continue our ascent. In His church, we partake in the greatest miracle of this world - we accept the flesh and blood of Jesus Christ and become one with Him. No other miracle is above this one.

The Church is our path to purity and to reforming our lives. When should we begin to have a new life? Every day. We reform by not allowing ourselves a single harsh remark or an evil thought. We begin by being grateful for what we already have, by asking God for forgiveness every time we lapse, and by repenting our sins in a confession. Our advance to purity begins this way.

None of us is a super-hero, but only a repentant sinner. We thank God for letting us repent when we lapse. If, in addition to repenting, we also asked each other for forgiveness, then Christ Himself would come to us and say, "I forgive you, my dear children." As we read in the Gospel, The Lord came to save the sinners, and I am the biggest of them.

So let us continue our ascent to His Kingdom as we reform our lives. Let us start small and finish big. A small prayer begets a prayer for the whole world. May our small prayer help us be considerate and patient of others and ourselves. May we not become embittered, even when others are hurting us badly. Let us forgive others wholeheartedly, and not entertain any resentment. And may the peace of the Lord reign in our hearts.

Archpriest Andrey Lemeshonok

August 24, 2021
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