Today's reading: Psalms 68-71 (69-72)
"With the mighty deeds of the Lord GOD will I come; I will remind them of your righteousness, yours alone." (Psalm 70/71:14)
Lent is full of the potential for many blessings. Equally present however, are the various pitfalls associated with departing from the path that leads to those blessings. Fasting is a great example. It may be of great assistance on our spiritual journey, but we are all aware of the difficulties of keeping the fast and the temptation to throw in the towel after a week or so.
Yet, giving up and discouragement are not the only dangers of which we must be aware when it comes to fasting. Precisely because fasting can be so difficult, we may start to exult in a sense of self-accomplishment if we are able to keep the fast well. Fasting may quickly become about keeping up appearances, about displaying our own righteousness rather than something done to the glory of God's righteousness. We may even be susceptible to falling into both of these traps within the span of one Great Lent! We may succumb to pride one week only to give up during the week that follows. Then the pendulum may swing right back to where it started!
Abba Dortheus of Gaza has this to say about fasting: "When one fasts through vanity or thinking that he is achieving something especially virtuous, he fasts foolishly and soon begins to criticize others and to consider himself something great. A man who fasts wisely…wins purity and comes to humility…and proves himself a skillful builder."
What do you do to avoid these extremes, and remember the true purpose of the fast?