This second article on warfare and Orthodoxy plans to focus on the warfare that every baptised Orthodox Christian is called to engage in, the spiritual warfare. Many great books have been written on this very subject, and this author would recommend the four volumes of the Evergetinos, Unseen Warfare by St Theophan the Recluse, and The Field and The Arena by St Ignatius Brianchaninov. These provide step by step methods by which we can start to take our spiritual lives seriously and engage in spiritual exercise. First among these books is the Ladder of Divine Ascent of St John Climacus, which is traditionally read during Great Lent. What follows is but a brief summary of the idea of spiritual warfare.
The topic of why we fast in the Orthodox Church was touched on in the previous article (see here) but was not completely explained. The reasons why Orthodox fast during certain periods such as Great Lent or on Wednesdays and Fridays were dealt with in Part 1. Here, we will examine why we fast at all.
The aim of this short article is to explain how we Orthodox Christians fast. It should be stated upfront that fasting is not mandatory for Orthodox Christians. Unlike Islam, it is not a sin if one does not fast. Having said that, fasting is one of the best weapons in our arsenal in dealing with the struggles and the temptations which we face.
As our society approaches December 25 each year, we hear about the spirit of Christmas and we know what that means. It is a spirit of joy, a spirit of love extended to everyone around you. Some might say that it is a spirit of giving, and many Orthodox would probably agree with that to the extent that it is not a consumeristic spirit. What then is the spirit of Great Lent, the most important season on the Orthodox calendar?