The Spiritual Watch

Below, please find the latest issue of The Spiritual Watch, the official publication of the Metropolis of America, published with the blessings of His Eminence, Metropolitan Demetrius of America. In The Spiritual Watch, you will find news and information regarding our Holy Metropolis, as well as spiritual writings.

The Spiritual Watch, Vol VII (New: February 24/March 8, 2024)

Quote From the Fathers

[Abba Moses said:] 'Fasts and vigils, the study of Scripture, renouncing possessions and everything wordly are not in themselves perfection, as we have said; they are its tools. For perfection is not to be found in them; it is acquired through them. It is useless, therefore, to boast of our fasting, vigils, poverty, and reading of Scripture when we have not achieved the love of God and our fellow man. Whoever has achieved love has God within himself and his intellect is always with God.'
—St. John Cassian, On the Holy Fathers of Sketis.

About the Fast

The feast of the Resurrection, Pascha, is the most important feast of the liturgical year. In order to prepare for this great day, the Church has appointed a time of fasting and preparation, which is called Great Lent. Great Lent begins on Clean Monday (March 5/18 this year), and lasts 40 days. After the 40 days, we begin Holy Week with the Feast of the Raising of Lazarus and Palm Sunday.

There are five Sundays during Lent:

  1. Sunday of Orthodoxy
  2. St. Gregory Palamas
  3. The Holy Cross
  4. St. John of the Ladder
  5. St. Mary of Egypt

In addition, there are multiple other commemorations that the Church has arranged for our spiritual edification.

How Do I Fast?

If you are new to fasting, or are not sure you have been doing it properly, know that the first step is to find an experienced spiritual father; a priest or monk of our Eparchy, or of one of the monasteries or parishes of our Church in Greece. Fasting is not a discipline that can be self-directed, and should be part of a balanced spiritual life including attendance at the Divine Services, private prayer at home, acts of charity, and the reading of Holy Scripture.

The general rules of Lent are simple; Monday through Friday are a strict fast, when we refrain from meat, dairy, fish, olive oil, and wine. Saturday and Sunday we are permitted wine and oil. On Annunciation, we are permitted fish.

If you are elderly, very young, sickly, or new to fasting, your spiritual father may give you a rule of fasting that is less strict than that which is described here. This is because fasting is not a set of rules and regulations, but a spiritual medicine that the spiritual father, as your spiritual doctor, determines will be for your benefit, taking in to account your state in life. We should refrain from judging those who do not fast as strictly as we do, while praying that they will grow in strength to do so.

In addition, there are extra services such as the Presanctified Liturgy and the Salutations that are prayed during the weekdays of Lent, and we should make every effort to attend these.

Fasting will be of no benefit to us, however, if we do not love our neighbors more than ourselves. Fasting is a tool in our arsenal against the Evil One, but it is useless if we bite the head off of our brother.

If you are living far away from a Church and cannot attend the services during Lent, contact our missions department below for advice on how to participate as best as you can. Spiritual growth is open to you even if you live a great distance.

Finally, dear readers, we pray that you will include us in your prayers, those who prepare this site for you, that we will remain firm, crossing the Sea of the Fast, and arriving at Pascha prepared.

Icon of Christ is © Holy Transfiguration Monastery, and used by permission.

About the Church

The Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians (GOC) of America is The Traditionalist Orthodox Church serving the faithful of North and South America following the old (Julian) calendar. Having its roots in the Diocese of Astoria, founded by Metropolitan Petros (Astyfides) in 1954, it presently consists of two Metropolises (America and Toronto) and two dioceses (Etna and Portland, and Boston), shepherded by five hierarchs, under the Presidency of His Eminence, Metropolitan Demetrius of America.

The Church of the GOC of America is an autonomous Eparchy whose Mother Church is The Holy Synod of the Church of the GOC of Greece, under the Presidency of His Beatitude Archbishop Kallinikos of Athens and All Greece. The bishops belonging to the Eparchial Synod are also members of the Holy Synod of the Church of Greece. We resist the heresy of Ecumenism.

Orthodox Awareness

The Message of Patriarch Theodore of Alexandra Upon the Feast of Ramadan

The “Father of Fathers, the Thirteenth Apostle and the Judge of the World (as his pheme states), Pope and Patriarch of Alexandria, Theodore sent a message to the Muslims of Egypt upon the feast of Ramadan. It is as follows:

“The most sacred month of the Islamic calendar, the chief month of personal worship and great awareness of the Divine for every faithful Muslim ends today with the festive, joyous season of Eid al-Fitr. Read more...

Missions

Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Mission, Tucson, Arizona

Saints Peter and Paul Orthodox Church is a beautiful mission parish near downtown Tucson, a city in southern Arizona. It was started in 1997 by Father John Bockman, who was a missionary Priest formerly serving missions in Tennessee and Massachusetts since 1990. Father John served the faithful in Tucson and the surrounding area in his home Chapel until his repose in November of 2000. His wife, Presbytera Valerie, continued to make her home Chapel available for the mission, with clergy from Saint Nectarios Orthodox Church in Seattle and His Eminence, Metropolitan Moses of Toronto (then of Portland), visiting to provide the Divine Services.

Read more...
Youth

2023 Youth Conference

Please join us for the 2023 youth conference in Chicago, IL! To learn more, visit the home page or visit the conference website.

Ask A Priest

Fasting

Q. There seems to be a lot of variation in how people observe fasting, but my confessor told me to fast from oil on Wednesday and Friday. Oil is a pretty vague category, though, and I was wondering if I could get a more explicit description of what kinds of food and drink are excluded on strict fast days. Read more...