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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