Have you looked at the calendar lately? Have you noticed that we are already past the halfway point of the Holy Forty Days Fast? What have you done to prepare for the upcoming days in which we celebrate the Cross and Resurrection of the Savior?

If you’re still looking to get started we have some suggestions: Fasting, Prayer and Almsgiving.

The Fasting part is pretty straight forward. If you’ve not kept the Fast before (or not kept it well) keep it from today until Pascha. You probably know the rules and certainly that should be the minimum fast that you keep. But the minimum fast is not something really challenging, especially if you can stop at your favorite restaurant for a good fish or lobster meal. Do something more. On the days you fast eat simply prepared foods.

Prayer? Many of us never know how to pray or what to pray. Start with the Lord’s Prayer three times a day (morning, noon and night) and then - if you can - keep the short “Rule of Prayer” every day. If that goes well, try something more – find and dust off the Bible and between now and Pascha read Matthew’s account of the life of Christ (it’s only 28 short chapters!).

Almsgiving? Yes, write a check to help those in need, and make it big enough to cause you to blink twice. If you don’t have ample resources for that then give of your time. Call a local charity and offer to help on Saturday. Two hours is a great start.

Finally, don’t advertise the fact that you are fasting, praying and giving alms. Your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (Matthew 6:4b).

Oh! There is an earthly reward. If you do all this (which is really not all that much) you are going to be really happy with yourself on Pascha.

Teachings of Christ

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:27-30 ESV)

Exaltation of the Cross

Save Your people, O Lord, and bless Your inheritance; * grant victory to Your Church over her enemies * and protect Your commonwealth by Your Cross. (Troparion - Tone 1)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

Willingly lifted up on the Cross, O Christ God, * bestow Your compassions upon the new commonwealth that bears Your name. * By your power grant joy to Your Church, * granting her victory over her enemies. * May she have your Cross as the weapon of peace * and the invincible ensign of victory. (Kontakion - Tone 4)

The Church celebrates the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross on September 14th.

Random Proverb

"Hear, O sons, a father's instruction, and be attentive, that you may gain insight, for I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching." (Proverbs 4:1,2 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

We truly love God and keep His commandments if we restrain ourselves from our pleasures. For he who still abandons himself to unlawful desires certainly does not love God, since he contradicts Him in his own intentions. . . Therefore, he loves God truly, whose mind is not conquered by consent to evil delight. For the more one takes pleasure in lower things, the more he is separated from heavenly love.

St. Gregory the Great