"As a man in profound darkness who adjusts his footsteps according to the candle in his hand, thus is the one who believes in Christ, i.e., who has embarked after Christ as after a light in the darkness of life."(Prologue of Ochrid, February 20th)

For centuries, slavery was considered "normal life" for the Hebrews in Israel. For hundreds of years, Islamic rule was the norm among Greek Orthodox peoples. For over seven decades, Communist oppression was "normal" throughout most of Eastern Europe.

Most of us look at our lives as "normal": the flow of our thoughts, our appetites and desires, along with our perception of the world. Yet as Orthodox Christians, we know that nothing could be farther from the truth. The Church Fathers remind us again and again that our lives are consumed by the vanities of a broken world that is quickly passing away. Our food and consumption can never satisfy us. Our life of "independence" from God can never give us true freedom - only slavery to our own desires.

Just as Christ's forty days in the wilderness cut through the illusions of the evil one, so too our struggles during Great Lent restore the sight of our spiritual eyes. It is a time of unprecedented opportunity to begin again our life, based firmly in God.

Yet Great Lent with its fasting, prayers, and repentance remains a voluntary observance. No one (except perhaps a grandmother) is going to break down our door to drag us to Church, nor will anyone force us to pray, or make us confess. If we are contented with "normal" life as we see it, God Himself gives us the freedom to drift along, without any adjustments.

We know that the life we call "normal" falls far short of full human life as God made it, in union with Him. Great Lent is the very best time for each of us to adjust our own life, and the responses of our heart, to the real normal: life in Christ.

We only have to decide to do it.

- FrG+

"Ours must be an orthodoxy of the heart, not just the mind."

-St.Tikhon of Zadonsk