The intrinsic merits of the Fast
Beyond simply the preparation for the feast of the Resurrection, Great Lent offers us many other benefits as well. Throughout the year, the focus of our lives tends to drift. While we are moved in our spiritual life by the love for God, there are many little variations that creep in and distract us, a little here and a little there, until the little variations finally add up to produce a drift from the true and central path to the Kingdom of God. When a spacecraft is sent towards a far off destination, even the smallest variation in its path can result in a huge error and missing the target by the end of the journey, unless that drift is corrected and the craft is brought back on course. This 'drift' in our spiritual life may seem small at the present, but over the whole course of life – and indeed the whole course of eternity - it may well lead us astray if it is not corrected.
Great Lent gives us the opportunity and tools to correct that 'drift' and set our soul again firmly in the centre of the path of salvation. All of the little passions for pleasure that have somehow found their ways into our lives are revealed by the discipline of Great Lent and their hold on us broken. Perhaps there is a new delicacy or food which we have learned to love or some new drink that we crave or a television program that we 'can’t miss' or some other little distraction that pulls at our heart, tugging it away from its pure and true drive toward Christ. During Great Lent, when we set all these things aside, the inordinate hold that such things begin to develop on the soul is broken by our ascetic labour and they can be returned to a place in our lives that is balanced and proper. We are reoriented and recentered on the path of salvation.