"Having completed the forty days that bring profit to our souls…"

Thus begins one of the hymns from tonight’s Vespers service. This service marks the transition from the 40 days of Lent to Holy Week. Every year these words seem bittersweet. Holy Week is here – but has my soul truly profited from this 40 day effort? Did I fast as I should? Did I refrain from judging my neighbor, from anger, from selfishness, from all the other sins that so beset us? Honestly, the answer has to be no. But there was profit nonetheless – profit from the small effort that I made, from the temptations sent by God for my healing and growth, from the very difficulties of life, from the moving and edifying lenten services, from the receipt of the Holy
Mysteries more often… There is always room to improve, to make a greater effort, to further grow in the grace of God. But for now, we are called to look ahead to Pascha. With our eyes set on the upcoming feast of the Resurrection, we are called to follow our Lord in the last days before his death as he raises Lazarus from the dead, enters Jerusalem in triumph, preaches in the
temple, tells his disciples of the coming end of the world, institutes the great Mystery of His Body and Blood, endures ridicule, torture, and death, descends into hades, frees the dead from ages past and rises again on the 3rd day, saving our souls. This effort – his effort – is the foundation of all of our efforts, because it alone makes our efforts bear fruit. And so let us cling to Him in thanksgiving. Let us follow Him in his last days, so that we may learn to be truly grateful for what he has done for us. Glory to God!

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