Nativity Fast:  November 15th thru December 24th

A Quote to Focus on our Gratitude towards God

“When you sit down to eat, pray. When you eat bread, do so thanking Him for being so generous to you. If you drink wine, be mindful of Him who has given it to you for your pleasure and as a relief in sickness. When you dress, thank Him for His kindness in providing you with clothes. When you look at the sky and the beauty of the stars, throw yourself at God’s feet and adore Him who in His wisdom has arranged things in this way. Similarly, when the sun goes down and when it rises, when you are asleep or awake, give thanks to God, who created and arranged all things for your benefit, to have you know, love and praise their Creator.” — St. Basil the Great

Dearest Spiritual ‘Ohana,

We come to the blessed time of the year when we enter into the Fall to Winter Holiday Season.  While the world is celebrating with much feasting and partying with rich and festive food, sweets and drinks, we as Orthodox Christians pause and move into a Festal Season which calls us to a 40 day period of fasting, beginning November 15th, and concluding at the end of the close of December 24th.  Though a lighter and easier one, in which we can partake of fish thru December 11th, with strict fasting as usual on Wednesdays and Fridays, this Fast is before us to help us to focus on what our true purpose in life is.  Our purpose as human beings is to journey in a continuous pursuit to know God and to strive to be in constant communion with Him.

Our relationship with God, which when we allow Him to enter into our lives and be our central focus,  leads us to fulfillment and true joy.  God is the one most important ingredient and essential part of our lives.  When our focus is on any other thing, except His Presence, we are left with a constant void, and an ever-present feeling that something is missing.

The Nativity Fast allows us the opportunity to focus on the true celebration of the Lord’s Incarnation, His taking on of human flesh, to redeem humankind out of His Immeasurable Love for us.  This is why we, as Orthodox Christians, purposefully, take on the fast amidst the Holiday Season.  It is a matter of focus, the focus on “the reason for the season” which is ultimately the salvation of humankind and for each of us, personally.  Our challenge as human beings, is to decide where our priorities lie in life.  Are they in the “temporal” or the “eternal” matters of life?  For us as Orthodox Christians it may seem like the choice is clear-cut and obvious, but this not necessarily the case.

St. John Chrysostom understands our dilemma, as humans when it comes to our focus and choices between the temporal and eternal things we seek after.  Our actions speak louder than words.  In other words, how we live our lives, makes it obvious where our priorities lie.  Here is how  St. John, whose Feast Day is celebrated on November 13th, puts things into perspective for us:

“How absurd and foolish is it that should a harper, or a dancer, or any one of these kind of people, invite us to his house, we would go there with all haste, and thank him for having invited us, and spend almost half the day there; paying attention only to him. But when God is speaking to us through His holy Prophets and Apostles we yawn, and we scratch, and we turn this way and that!

And at the circus, without a roof above them to keep off the rain, the crowds stand there crazy, the rain pouring down on them, and the wind blowing it in their faces, and they think nothing of the cold or the rain or the distance, and nothing will keep them from going there, and nothing will keep them at home! But to go to the Church, a shower, or the mud on the road, is a serious obstacle!” — St. John Chrysostom

I wish all of you a beautiful, fulfilling and joyful Holiday Season filled with the Lord’s Loving and Meaningful Presence in each and every one of your lives!

With Continued Love and Joy in Christ,

+Fr. Alexander