HOLY (PASSION) WEEK AND PASCHAL WORSHIP 2021
Sun. April 25 Entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) 10:00 AM
Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom with the Blessing of Palms
Thu. April 29 Great and Holy Thursday 5:30 PM
Matins of Holy Friday with the Twelve Passion Gospels
Fri. April 30 Great and Holy (Good) Friday 3:00 PM
Vespers of Holy Friday with the Bringing Forth of the Holy Shroud
Sat. May 1 Great and Holy Saturday 10:00 AM
Vesperal Liturgy of St. Basil with the 15 Old Testament Readings
Compline/Nocturnes with the Removal of the Holy Shroud 11:30 PM
Sun. May 2 Holy Pascha - The Resurrection of Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Paschal Matis & Divine Liturgy 12:00 Midnight
Procession (weather permitting), Blessing of the Artos, Eggs and Baskets
Important Sign-Up Information: because of the current pandemic, space is limited for Holy Week and Pascha Services. If you would like to attend these services, parishioners may do so through the attendance sheet that will be sent to you through email; visitors may email us prior to services by using the St. Mark email address at the top of our home page. Thank you for your patience, understanding and cooperation.
This is the day of resurrection.
Let us be illumined by the feast.
Let us embrace each other.
Let us call "brothers" even those who hate us,
And forgive all by the resurrection...
Sunday Services & Announcements
April 25, 2021 - Entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem (Palm Sunday)
Palm Sunday is the celebration of the triumphant entrance of Christ into the royal city of Jerusalem. He rode on a colt for which He Himself had sent, and He permitted the people to hail Him publicly as a king. A large crowd met Him in a manner befitting royalty, waving palm braches and placing their garments in His path. They greeted Him with these words: "Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" (John 12:13)
This day together with the raising of Lazarus are signs pointing beyond themselves to the mighty deeds and events which consummate Christ's earthly ministry. The time of fulfillment was at hand. Christ's raising of Lazarus points to the destruction of death and the joy of resurrection which will be accessible to all through His own death and resurrection. His entrance into Jerusalem is a fulfillment of the messianic prophecies about the king who will enter his holy city to establish a final kingdom. "Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass" (Zech 9:9). If you would like to read more about the Entry of Our Lord into Jerusalem, please click on the following link: https://www.oca.org/saints/lives/2021/04/25/20-entry-of-our-lord-into-jerusalem-palm-sunday
Troparion - Tone 1
By raising Lazarus from the dead before Your passion, You did confirm the universal Resurrection, O Christ God! Like the children with the palms of victory, we cry out to You, O Vanquisher of death: Hosanna in the Highest! Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord!
Troparion - Tone 4
When we were buried with You in Baptism, O Christ God, we were made worthy of eternal life by Your Resurrection! Now we praise You and sing: Hosanna in the hightest! Blessed is He that comes in the Name of the Lord!
Kontakion - Tone 6
Sitting on Your throne in heaven, carried on a foal on earth, O Christ God! Accept the praise of angels and the songs of children who sing: Blessed is He that comes to recall Adam!
Scripture Readings: Genesis 49:1-2, 8-12, Zephaniah 3:14-19, Zechariah 9:9-15, James 1:1-12, James 1:13-27, James 2:1-13, Luke 10:1-15, 1 Peter 5:6-14, Mark 6:7-13, Matthew 21:1-11, 15-17, Philippians 4:4-9, John 12:1-18
The next Divine Liturgy at St. Mark will be held on April, 25 2021 (Palm Sunday) at 10:00 AM; the reading of the third and sixth hours begins at 9:30 AM. Previous liturgical services are viewable on our YouTube channel at the top of our website page.
If you would like to attend Divine Liturgy at St. Mark, please email us and we will send you an attendance form to fill out prior to Sunday services. Masks are mandatory and if you are ill we ask that you stay home until you are well. You may email us at email@example.com
If you would like to sign up for Confession with Fr. Kevin please do so on the Google document sent to you through email a week prior to Divine Liturgy; please follow the link and add your name next to the date and time of your preference.
Please remember in your prayers: Francis, Alban, Alexandra, Cecelia, Robert, Mat. Eleanor, Priest Antony, Reader George, Vasily, Ramon, Maria, Peter, Alexandra, Conor, Nicholas; the kidnapped Hierarchs Metropolitan Paul (Boulos Yazigi) & Archbishop John (Yohanna Ibrahim); the suffering Christians of Egypt and Syria; Departed: Vladimir, Madeline, David, Harout, John, Zoe, Sophia, Kouria Diana, Mat. Elizabeth, Pauline, Peter, Lybov, George, Catherine, Anna, Theodore, Mary, Basiliki, Sophia, Demetri
Please email prayer requests the church warden.
The Raising of Lazarus (Lazarus Saturday) (April 24)
Visible trumphs are few in the earthly life of Lord Jesus Christ. He preached a kingdom "not of his world." At His nativity in the flesh there was "no room at the inn." For nearly thirty years, while He grew "in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52), He lived in obscurity as "the son of Mary." When He appeared from Nazareth to begin His public ministry, one of the first to hear of Him asked: "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" (John 1:46). In the end He was crucified between two thieves and laid to rest in the tomb of another man.
Two brief days stand out as sharp exceptions to the above - days of clearly observable triumph. These days are known in the Church today as Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday. Together they form a unified liturgical cycle which serves as the passage from the forty days of Great Lent to Holy Week. They are the unique and paradoxical days before the Lord's Passion. They are days of visible, eartly triumph, of resurrectional and messianic joy in which Christ Himself is a deliberate and active participant. At the same time they are days which point beyond themselves to an ultimate victory and final kingship which Christ will attain not by raising one dead man or entering a particular city, buty by His own immenent suffering, death and resurrection. If you would like to read more about The Raising of Lazaruas, please click on the following link: https://www.oca.org/saints/lives/2021/04/24/19-the-raising-of-lazarus-lazarus-saturday
Friday, April 23: Holy Greatmartyr, Victory-bearer and Wonderworker George
Saturday, April 24: Lazarus Saturday
Sunday, April 25: Palm Sunday | Holy Apostle and Evangelist Mark
Paschal Appeal Letters were mailed out to your homes. As a parish, we are able to use your God-given financial gifts to support our clergy, education, growth, outreach and building maintenance, which are so important to the spiritual health of our parish community. Therefore, please consider supporting St. Mark by giving a donation in honor of the Paschal season as a gift of gratitude to Christ and His Church. Thank you.
We are collecting items for distribution to those in need via a local food pantry. Please leave the items you wish to donate in the large blue bin located in the nave of the church. It is important that we continue to care for those in need, especially during these uncertain and difficult times.
The Parish Council will meet on Monday, May 17 at 6:30 pm via Zoom.
Volunteers Needed: If you would like to volunteer to be a church cleaner or Sunday attendant, please contact the church warden.
A New Message for Hope and Encouragement (For the week of April 19, 2021):
Eating with Greeks - An excerpt from the book "The Scent of Holiness: Lessons from a woman's monastery" by Constantina R. Palmer
Throughout my visits to the monastery, I witnessed many interesting comments and events during mealtimes, with visitors and nuns alike. The following stories provide a glimpse into what it means to eat with (or in the presence of) Greeks.
One afternoon Mrs. Dina and I were eating fish together for lunch. As I mentioned before, the nuns often baked and served the entire body, including the head, of the fish. Thus, I was struggling a little at the beginning trying to eat the fish while avoiding all the bones. Mrs. Dina kept watching me all the while with concern. By this point, she had finished her meal, and seeing that I was still struggling, she said, "Would you like me to clean your fish for you? I just washed my hands." Accepting defeat, I handed her my plate. I was not going to manage to eat all that fish meat if I had to stop every few seconds to dig out a bone. She took a knife and cut the fish in two from the underside of the tail to the head and started taking out all the bones. She put all the bones to one side and the fish meat to the other. "There," she said, "try eating it now." After some time she asked, "Aren't you going to eat the head?" "No," I said hesitantly. "Oh, we eat the heads. They're good for you." "Well, we don't. You want it?" "Sure," she said, taking it.
Eating with Mrs. Dina was like eating with my grandmother. She took care of me as if I were a child needing to be fed. Something I noticed about many Greeks is that they can't understand how you can eat a meal without bread. Every time I ate with Mrs. Dina, she would pass me the bread basket and tell me to take some. At first I refused, not feeling the need to eat bread when the nuns had put so much food on my plate. But after seeing her become grieved enough times when I refused, and after hearing her say, "You need to eat bread, it's good for you," too many times, I just started taking a slice each time she offered it to me. Then when she wasn't looking, I'd put them back in the basket! A lot of Greeks I ate with also found that I ate very little. I remember visiting the monastery once with my godmother and eating lunch with a group of women. When someone offered me seconds, I politely refused, to my surprise one of the women (whom I didn't remember, though she looked familiar) said, "Oh, no, she doesn't eat very much. I've eaten with her before and noticed that."
I found that rather peculiar, but I guess some people notice those things and think a "growing young woman" needs to eat more. (To tell the truth, I avoided stuffing myself full of vegetables and bread so I could save room for sweets! But that bad habit seemed to go unnoticed - at least at that time it did.) Whenever we ate with Mrs. Maria (Sr. Silouani's sister) she, like most Greek women, would force me to eat more. Whenever I asked her to pass me the water, she would comment while pouring, "You drink a lot of water when you eat! But it is blessed water, very blessed water." This always made my husband laugh. One lunchtime I came into the dining hall where Elder Isidoros the blind was already eating. St. Raphaela was attending to him. She pointed to a seat and quietly said, "That's your place, Constantina. Marina gave you a chocolate donut because she knows you like chocolate. Isn't that right?" "Yes," I said. The elder overheard this and said, "We shouldn't eat what we like, but what we need. Constantina, what kind of food do you dislike?" "White rice. We ate it too often when we lived in Asia and now I don't really like it." "Which do you like better, rice or Fr. Luke?" he asked, referring to my spiritual father, whom he had met when Fr. Luke visited Philotheou Monastery. At this Sr. Raphaela and I exchanged looks with big smiles. "I like Fr. Luke better," I answered. "Well, from now on call rice 'Luke' and eat it!" the elder said, in his characteristically entertaining manner. "May it be blessed," I said, laughing.
One evening, Mrs. Maria and I were eating dinner together when Sr. Silouani came in. She stopped to talk to us and said to me, "Constandia [that's how she always prounounced my name], you've gained weight!" "I know I gained a little here," I said, tapping my stomach. "No, not there. Here!" Sr. Silouani said, indicating my backside. I started laughing. "Sister!" I said. But that wasn't the only comment about my weight that trip. The next day at lunch Mrs. Maria and I each had our own salad. I had eaten everything on my main plate and I tried a piece of eggplant the nuns had prepared as a side dish, so I had no room left to eat my salad. This upset Mrs. Maria and she said, "Eat! Eat your salad!" "I'm too full," I confessed. When Sr. Savina came out of the nun's dining hall, Mrs. Maria told her. "Look, Sister! Constantina didn't eat her salad." I have no idea what made her say that, but boy did I ever hear it from Sr. Savina! (Sr. Savina was one of the older nuns. I had veen visiting the monastery for two and a half years at the point this story took place, and she had spoken to me maybe twice.) "Constantina, why didn't you eat your salad? You don't like salad?" she asked. "Salad is my favorite, but I'm too full," I said. "Yeah, you're too full because you eat too many sweets!" she responded. I just looked at her wide-eyed. "Do you know how you have become?" she said, getting louder. "Like this!" she said, putting her hands ehind her back to indicate a large backside. Utterly taken by surprise, but finding her too funny to keep a straight face, I burst out laughing. "Well, by your prayers I'll try not to eat so many sweets," I said, still laughing. Once she had spoken her mind, she turned and slowly walked away.
When I told the nuns what Sr. Savina said, I couldn't stop laughing. They just shook their heads. "Savina! Don't pay any attention to her, Constantina. She says stuff like that to everyone." "Take it for humility," Sr. Xenia suggested. "That was one of very few time Sr. Savina has ever spoken to me! Maybe she thinks I have hope of improvement since she bothered to speak to me," I said, trying to make light of her criticism. The sisters just responded with smiles. A few days later I saw Sr. Savina again and told her, "Sister, I'd just like you to know that since you spoke to me the other day, I haven't eaten any sweets." "Yeah, well, when you go home you're going to be throwing them in your mouth!" she said with a flat expression, putting her hand to her mouth to indicate just how I would "throw" them. "No, Sister, by your prayers I'll try not to," I said, smiling, but trying to take her seriously. "Excuse me for what I said, it's just you're very tall and it's a shame if you become fat," she calmly explained. "I understand. Thank you, by your prayers I'll try harder," I said. And I did try hearder - for a few weeks.
The next day when I was preparing to leave, Sr. Lydia packed a lot of food for me to take home, but I refused a lot of it. So she went to the abbess: "Gerontissa, Constantina doesn't want to take any food with her because Savina called her fat," she said. "That's not why!" I said, laughing. "Constantina, don't pay any attention to Savina," Gerontissa said, smiling. "No, really I just thought it was too much food to take," I said. In the end I yielded. "May it be blessed!"
Athousand years ago there was a holy fool in Constantinople named Andrew. Like most "Fools for Christ," Andrew was in fact perfectly normal (even handsome and intelligent, his tradition holds). But he had taken on the challenging ascetic discipline of feigning madness, in order to acquire humility by allowing others to hold him in contempt. "We are fools for Christ's sake," wrote St. Paul (1 Cor. 4:10). By choice, Andrew was homeless and utterly impoverished; he went about half-naked and ate only what people gave him. When he, in turn, gave to the poor, he would also mock them, as a strategy to avoid receiving thanks. Spending his days in humiliation and nights in constant prayer, Andrew honed his sense of the presence of God. He grew able to read into the souls of those around him, and would express these insights by symbolic actions or cryptic words that could penetrate the defenses of people too jaded to listen to a sermon.
One freezing night, Andrew had resorted to sleeping among the dogs on a dunghill, in an attempt to warm his body sufficently to survive till morning. There an angel appeared to him, and carried him up to the "third heaven" that St. Paul saw (2 Cor. 12:2). It seemed to Andrew that the visit stretched to two weeks, as the angel showed him the courts of heaven. He even saw the Lord on his throne, "high and lifted up," just as the prophet Isaiah had described. Andrew said that the Lord spoke three words to him, and they filled him with unspeakable joy. But Andrew did not see the Virgin Mary. At last he asked the angel to take him to her, but the angel replied, "Oh, she is not here! She goes down to the much-suffering earth, to help those in trouble and console those who sorrow."
Andrew's behavior made him well-known in the city, and a young man who saw through his stratagem, Epiphanius, became his companion and disciple. (We know Andrew's secret through Epiphanius, and also through Andrew's spiritual father. For someone engaged in a high-wire act like being a Fool-for-Christ, a spiritual mother or father is even more of a necessity). One evening, Andrew and Epiphanius were attending an all-night vigil at the church of the Virgin Mary, in a part of Constantinople called Blachernae. The city had gathered for fervent prayer, because a barbarian fleet was approaching the city and defeat seemed imminent. The long hours passed, and hymns and chants filled the candle-lit darkness. Then, at four o'clock in the morning, Andrew turned to Epiphanius and asked in astonishment, "Do you see, brother, the Holy Theotokos, praying for the whole world?" Epiphanius answered, "I do, holy father, and am in awe."
As Andrew and Epiphanius watched, the Virgin Mary entered the church and proceeded to its center. She was accompanied by holy men and women from all centuries; Andrew and Epiphanius recognized St. John the Evangelist and St. John the Baptist among them. Mary knelt and prayed for a long time in tears. Then she stood and removed her veil and held it in her outstretched hands, rising and spreading it over the heads of the worshipers. The story of Andrew and Epiphanius says, "For a long time they observed the Protecting Veil spread over the people, and shining with flashes of glory."
The barbarians inexplicably retreated. The city was saved. And the feast of this event in AD 911 is observed every year on October 1. Somewhere in Manchester a scrap of papyrus cataloged as number 470 is resting in a cool, dark, acid-free, and archivally optimum place. It's probable that no one handles it, and a cinch that no one reads it prayerfully. But for the man or woman who scribbled these words down, misspellings and all, so many centuries ago, it was one side of a continuing conversation. The response is what Andrew and Epiphanius saw, in the bleak hours before dawn in the church of Blachernae.
from the book "Mary: As the Early Christians Knew Her" by Frederica Mathewes-Green
O Lord, how lovely it is to be thy guest: breeze full of scents; mountains reaching to the skies; waters like boundless mirrors, reflecting the sun's golden rays and the scudding clouds. All of nature murmurs mysteriously, full of tender love. Birds and beasts bear the seal of thy love. Blessed is Mother Earth in her fleeting loveliness, which wakens our yearning for our eternal fatherland, in a place where, amid beauty that grows not old, the cry rings out: Alleluia!
Thou has brought me into this life as into an enchanted paradise. We have seen the sky like a chalice of deepest blue, where the birds sing in the azure heights. We have heard the soothing whisper of the forest and the sweetly singing music of the streams. We have tasted sweet and aromatic fruit and fragrant honey. We can live very well on thy earth. It is a pleasure to be thy guest.
Glory to thee for the feast day of life.
Glory to thee for the perfume of lily and rose.
Glory to thee for the sweet variety of berries and fruit.
Glory to thee for the sparkling silver of early morning dew.
Glory to thee for the smile of dawn's awakening.
Glory to thee for life in this age, a foretaste of heaven.
Glory to thee, O God, from age to age!
These beautiful words were taken from The Akathist "Glory to God for all Things"
Be still and know that I am God. - Psalm 46:10
Through prayer, man is cleansed, brightened and sanctified. - Elder Amphilochios of Patmos
Do you Fast? Give me proof of it by your works. If you see a poor man, take pity on him. If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him. Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eyes, and the feet, and the hands and all the members of our bodies. Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice. Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin. Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful. Let the ears fast by not listening to evil talk and gossip. Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism. For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and devour our brothers? - St. John Chrysostom
There can be no knowledge of the mysteries of God on a full stomach. - St. Isaac the Syrian
If you are silent, you will have peace wherever you live. -Abba Poeman
Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. - Mother Teresa
In all our deeds God looks at the intention, whether we do it for His sake, or for the sake of some other intention. - St. Maximos the Confessor
Give not sleep to thine eyes, nor slumber with thine eyelids; that thou mayest deliver theyself as a doe out of the toils, and as a bird out of a snare (Prov. 6:4-5). Everyone who in his heart has set out now, before the face of the Lord, to live according to His commandments, should take this rule as his guide. He must not give sleep to his eyes - not these outer eyes, but the inner eyes of the mind - that they might gaze into his heart and faithfully observe all that occurs there, and thus he who is zealous will be able to find the enemy's snares and avoid danger from them. The heart now becomes the arena for struggle against the enemy. There the enemy unceasingly sows his own [seed], which is in turn reflected in one's thoughts. Such thoughts, however, are not always outrageously bad, but are for the most part disguised by false goodness and correctness. The chain of all thoughts is just like an intricate net! He who heedlessly sets out after them will not escape entanglement and, consequently, the danger of a fall. This is why, brother, you must keep the eye of your mind sharp-sighted by means of strict attention toward everything that occurs in you and around you. Take note of what your relentless "advisor" proposes to you on the left side and investigate the reason it was proposed to you and where it will lead, and you will never fall into his snares. Only, do not forget that attentiveness alone is not effective. It must be joined with abstinence, wakefulness, and unceasing prayer to the Lord. Combine all these, and it will be difficult to catch you. - St. Theophan the Recluse
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither mouth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:19-21)
This is a saving commandment, directed to all of us, from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Who has never sinned against this commandment of our loving Lord? Whose heart is not tied more or less to the earth, to eartly treasures, whatever they may be? Who, for example, is not attached to his flesh, to earthly honor and glory, to earthly riches, to earthly beauty, to all kinds of earthly pleasures, in general, to all that is earthly, sometimes to the point of forgetting God and His holy commandments and saving intentions toward us, forgetting the heavenly nature of his soul, its image and likeness to God, that it is destined for eternal life in God and with God, its deep fall and the need to raise it up through sincere, profound, and sanctification through grace? Who is it whose treasure is God alone and His holy commandments, the holy virtues, and who despises and humbles his flesh with its passions and lusts as the temporary servant clinging to its mistress, the soul, and that only so much enjoys the attention and care of the soul as far as it serves its higher, spiritual goals? Who is it who does not possess different idols in his heart, set on this holy place that should always be the throne of the Almighty God?
Thus all of us, beloved in the Lord brothers and sister, must admit to this, that we gather treasures on earth, in our temporary shelter, that must pass away and disappear, and where the moths and rust of self-love and the passions and sins destroy these threasures, as they are perishable and impure, and where thieves - the demons - and perhaps people, break in and steal the heart as well as its treasure. For example, if your treasure is money, or carnal pleasures, or impersonal people whom your bestial passions have made soulless and turned into objects of gross pleasure, as well as turning yourself into an immoral, soulless being; or is your treasure only earthly knowledge, art, industry, handcrafts? For how long will these treasures belong to you? Maybe not today or tomorrow, but soon enough your earthly edifice, your body, will collapse, and your treasure, together with your body, will leave you, and so what will remain for you, for your soul? Nothing. But your soul is eternal, and it will need in the age to come eternal treasures characteristic to it, such as hope in Christ and love of God and neighbor, mercy, humility, purity, rectitude, gentleness, and, generally, all works of virtue. Where do you keep them? Are you stocking up on spiritual oil? Are you stocking up on spiritual treasures? Well, you'd better stock up quickly, while there is still time. Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal (Matt 6:20); because, I add, there lies the kingdom of incorruption, the kingdom of truth, where the devil is not present. For, says the Lord, where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matt 6:21). That is a great truth that we often forget, and others forget it permanently: where our treasures are, there are also our hearts. And because our treasures are on earth, so also our hearts are on earth; they have clung to earthly treasures, pleasures, most of which are gross and impure, and therefore are no longer in heaven, with God or His holy commandments, His advice, His promises and consolation.
During the liturgy, the priest, before consecrating the heavenly mysteries, utters on behalf of the Church: let us lift up our hearts; that is, let us raise our hearts to God, let us break away from all that is earthly. But who is able to resolutely raise up his heart, even during these awesome and all-saving minutes, if our hearts and thoughts are so busy with earthly treasures and pleasures, cares, with the objects of our everday passions? How often during these minutes do spiritual thieves break into our hearts and steal our attention, our faith, our love of God, and our devotion to the saving mystery, to this universal sacrifice of intercession, propitiation, and thanksgiving? Why is this so? It is because where our treasures are, there also are our hearts. It is because, going to church to attend the consecration of the heavenly mysteries, we did not prepare our souls to worthily stand in church, did not set aside all earthly worries and cares, did not cleanse our hearts from evil passions, did not leave every sin at the threshold of the temple; we forgot that, while standing in church, we must stand as if in heaven, because here lies the throne of God and the heavenly powers invisibly serve with us, and with them the Most-Holy Queen of heaven and earth, the Most-Holy Mother of God, and all the saints, which we silently commemorate on the liturgy, before and after the consecration of the Holy Gifts, because it is also for them that the Church offers to God the sacrifice of thanksgiving.
The days of fasting and repentance are approaching, in which we must acknowledge our sins, remember them, grieve for them, have contrition in our hearts, repent, and correct ourselves. How will our Lent be? How will our repentance be? If God, His holy will, His righteousness and eternal life together with its infinite blessedness are our treasures, then our Lent will be sincere, unfeigned, and our repentance will be sincere, ardent, resolute, consistent; for only such a repentance can give us back our priceless treasure, lost because of our sins - our Lord Jesus Christ and His grace, However, if our treasure, our idol, will as usual be our passionate flesh, the adulterous and sinful world, together with its charming, alluring, yet soon disappearing goods, then our Lent will not be sincere, or will simply not happen, and our repentance will be only superficial, and therefore insincere, irresolute, mediocre, barren, which may God forbid happens to any of us; for such a repentance is sinful insensitivity, ingratitude to God, Who gives the gift of infinite mercy to sinners for the sake of eternal life; it is a violation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, Who cleanses our sins for the sake of the merits of Christ and Who sanctifies our souls and bodies.
Therefore, let us take heed to yourselves carefully, where your treasure is, on earth or in heaven! For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also (Matt. 6:21).
Homily II "On Cheesefare Sunday" from the book "Season of Repentance: Lenten Homilies of Saint John of Kronstadt"
"Every day one should partake of just enough food to permit the body, being fortified, to be a friend and helper to the soul in performing the virtues. Otherwise, with the body exhausted, the soul may also weaken". - St. Seraphim of Sarov
"Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless." - Mother Teresa
Attend to Almsgiving
St. Seraphim of Sarov put it this way: "Establish yourself in God and then you will be helpful to others." Practice almsgiving. Almsgiving is a form of love, and remember, this is what we are called to do - and to do it even more frequently when we are in an extended fasting period. God truly knows what is best for us. When we willingly help others, it somehow benefits our health. Throughout our lives, we will continually be dealing with strife and struggle. As we well know, this is a part of life that is never going away. But our approach to such issues can make all the difference. I once heard a story of a man who lived through Hurricane Katrina and lost everything. He was asked, "How are you dealing with the pain of losing everything?" He said whenever he started to get down about his situation, he would go and help another person, and it seemed to be a coping mechanism that worked for him.
An unfortunate yet helpful thing to recognize is that there is always someone worse off than we are. When our thoughts start to spin out into feelings of despair and hopelessness, it's important to turn to prayer and to lend a helping hand to one in need. We can help someone by simply calling them and giving them a word of support; or by sharing lunch with a co-worker who has no one to eat with; or by giving money to someone who is struggling financially; or by volunteering to build houses for the needy. These are quick suggestions that come to mind. There are many other ways to share in almsgiving. Here are a few more ideas:
*Volunteer at a nursing home, hospital, women's shelter, soup kitchen, etc.
*Make extra food and share it with a shut-in or a friend who is dealing with a lot that lacks the time to cook.
*Babysit for a family to give the parents a night out.
*Invite someone who lives alone to dinner. There is much to be said for sharing a meal with others.
*Call a widow or widower and take him or her out to lunch or to some other activity. Many times these people are suffering. Life has changed; they used to eat and/or cook with another, and now they have meals by themselves. They used to run errands with another, and now they do them by themselves. Many widows and widowers have a hard time reaching out, both because they are suffering emotionally and because they do not want to feel like they are being a bother. Take the initiative and extend an invitiation. Or invite yourself over to their house with a home-cooked meal in hand. Chances are they will gladly welcome the company.
*Take charge of organizing some almsgiving activitythat can take place on a regular basis through your church community. For example, take the lead on a semiannual food drive, or organize feeding the hungry on a weekly or monthly basis. Assess the needs in your community and perhaps lead a humanitarian committee in your parish. Others may want to serve but don't have the time to seek out options, so if we direct this endeavor, it could produce many fruits and an opportunity for others to serve.
From the book "Food, Faith and Fasting: A Sacred Journey to Better Health" by Rita Madden