"My soul, my soul, arise! Why are you sleeping? The end is drawing near, and you will be confounded. Awake, then and be watchful, that Christ our God may spare you, Who is everywhere present and fills all things." Kontakion from the Great Penitential Canon of St. Andrew of Crete
St. Andrew, who really should be the Patron Saint of people who talk to themselves (like me), gives us these words with which to wake ourselves up the first week of Great Lent, and then again toward the end of Lent. These words have been in my mind for several days now. I seem to be in a spiritual stupor for the last few weeks, and I only wake up from this for small moments in time, and then my soul goes back to its slumber.
So why is my soul sleeping? It seems I am always fighting this battle this time of year. The days get shorter, it gets cold, and I usually have more work than I have time for. And in the midst of this, the Church prescribes a fast for the Nativity of Christ. Great Lent is so much easier for me than the Nativity Fast for a number of reasons. The first is that Thanksgiving is during the Nativity Fast. My birthday is also during the Nativity fast. I usually end up breaking the fast at least a couple times just because of celebrations. The other problem is that there are not nearly as many Church services during the Nativity Fast as there are during Great Lent. The first week of Lent, there is a service every night. This time of year, I feel cold, and tired, and it feels like I am being asked to practice asceticism without a safety net. So I plod along through the Fast in the hopes that it will pass by quickly and I can get on to other things.
I often wish that I could just hibernate through the winter and wake up when the weather gets warm again and the sun comes out. I figure if my soul is gonna take a nap, my body might as well get a nice long sleep as well. But since that is not plausible, I need to pray for my soul to awaken. I need to struggle to make this a period of preparation, because the end is near at hand for all of us, and I should not be wasting my time in sleep anyway.
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