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Thursday. [Phil 1:20–27; Luke 6:12–19] And He continued all night in prayer to God. Here is the founda?tion and beginning of Christian all-night Vigils. A prayerful heat chases away sleep, and exhilaration of the spirit does not allow one to notice the passing of time. True men of prayer do not notice this; it seems to them that they had just begun to pray, meanwhile day has already appeared. But until one reaches such perfection, he must take on the labour of vigils. Solitaries have borne this and bear it; cenobitic mo?nastics have borne this and bear it; reverent and God-fearing laypeople have borne this and bear it. But though vigil comes with difficulty, its fruit remains in the soul, directly and constantly present — peace of soul and contrition, with weakening and exhaustion of the body. It is a state very valuable for those who are zealous about prospering in the spirit! That is why in places where vigils are established (on Athos), they do not want to give them up. Everyone realizes how difficult it is, but nobody has a desire to rescind this order, for the sake of the profit which the soul receives from vigils. Sleep, more than anything, relaxes and feeds the flesh; vigils more than anything humble it. One who sleeps abundantly is burdened by spiritual deeds and is cold towards them; he who is vigilant is quick in move?ment, like an antelope, and burns in the spirit. If the flesh must be taught to be good, like a slave, then there is no better way to succeed in this than through frequent vigils. Here the flesh fully feels the power of the spirit over it, and learns to submit to it; while the spirit acquires the habit of reigning over the flesh.
Saint Theophan the Recluse