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Watch ye and pray always

[Heb. 7:1-6; Luke 21:28-33]

And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be weighed down with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. “That day,” which means the last day of the world or of each of us, comes like a thief and captures like a net; that is why the Lord says: Watch ye therefore and pray always (Luke 21:36). While since satiation and vain fussing are the top enemies of vigil and prayer, one is forewarned not to permit oneself to be weighed down by food, drink and worldly worries. For one who has eaten, drunk, made merry; who has slept enough but does it again what vigil can there be? Is one who is occupied solely with worldly things, day and night, up for prayer? “What should I do?” you say. “It is not possible to go without food; and we have to procure it. So we have to concern ourselves with this.” But the Lord did not say, “do not work, do not eat, do not drink,” but rather, let not your heart be weighed down with this. Work with your hands, but keep your heart free; if you must eat—eat, but do not burden yourself with food; drink wine when necessary, but do not let it lead to disturbance of your head and heart. Divide your outer from your inner and make the latter your life’s work, and the former a sideline; keep your attention and heart in the latter, and only your body, arms, legs and eyes in the former. Watch ye and pray always, that you may be made worthy to stand fearlessly before the Son of Man. In order to be made worthy of this, it is necessary to establish yourself before the Lord while you are still here in your life; there is one means for this—vigilant prayer in the heart performed by the mind. He who is in such a state of mind will not be taken unawares on “that day”.

Saint Theophan the Recluse

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