“Keep watch with Me”

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Dear Friends of Saint Dumitru Monastery,
We find ourselves once again in the best period of the year to “trade” for our salvation. In this period, our “investment” yields the most “profit” because we make it during a period “of necessity”. In other words, during this time, our Dear Savior asks us to keep watch, to pray, and to be by His side in His Passion (cf. Mark 14:34).
In the Gospel of Mark, we have maybe the most “human” version of the Lord’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane: “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death… And going a little farther, He fell on the ground and prayed… Abba, Father, all things are possible to Thee; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what Thou wilt” (Mark 14:34-36). And Saint Luke adds: “And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. Then His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground” (Luke 22:44). We see how each cell of His body was filled with dread in the face of the Passion. But the Lord reveals to us the value and dignity of man, who can rise above the heaviness and resistance of his flesh and his nature in order to fulfill a good work.
The Lord’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane opens to us a new perspective regarding how we relate to the “toil of the earth” (cf. Genesis 3:19). Each and every time we surpass the toil and resistance of our flesh (comfort, laziness, etc.) and nature in order to fulfill a good cause (work, study, fulfilling the Gospel, etc.), we resemble Him. And, since our resemblance to Him is accomplished through “toil” (cf. Romans 6:5), then by laboring intently, we can transform any toil, any unpleasant occurrence, any trial in our life into an occasion to grow in likeness with Christ our Savior.
In particular, any fast, any prayer, any psalm, any participation in the divine services that we do during this period, are signs of “friendship” with our Lord, signs in time “of necessity” (“A friend in need is a friend indeed”). And He, in turn, will “recognize” us too, sometime and somewhere.
May our good God and His Most Pure Mother grant us the strength to complete our Lenten struggle and thereby to show ourselves as “friends of the Bridegroom”.
In Christ, our Lord and Savior,
Protosyngellos Ieremia
Abbot of Saint Dumitru Monastery
PS. The Lenten service schedule of our monastery can be found in the “Liturgical Schedule” section of our website.