Our lives as Orthodox Christians should be a constant journey along the path that leads us to our true home land, the Kingdom of Heaven . This journey, however, is often interrupted by our slipping from the true path and following strange paths which lead away from our Saviour.
Great Lent is an opportunity for us to take account of the direction we have been following and intensify our struggle to return to the true path. This struggle is both physical and spiritual because both our body and our soul need to work together to overcome the physical and spiritual passions which lead us astray.
Fasting, which is part of our physical struggle, will be futile if it is not accompanied by spiritual struggles against the passions of anger, selfishness and pride. This is why during Great Lent our prayers are increased and we ask the Lord to give us the enlightenment to recognize how far we have strayed. More frequent attendance of Lenten Church Services, a concerted effort to study the word of God and sincere preparation for Holy Confession must accompany our fasting and in this way prepare ourselves to receive the Grace of the Resurrection of our Saviour.
Struggling is not just for monastics. It is the path for all Christians. The following list includes just a few books that will prove helpful to those who wish to embark on this Lenten struggle.
“The Homilies” of Saint Gregory Palamas
“The Arena” by Bishop Ignatios Brianchaninov
“The Spiritual Homilies” of Saint Makarios the Great
“The Ethical Discourses” of St. Symeon the New Theologian
“Discourses and Sayings” of Saint Dorotheos of Gaza
“Letters of Direction” of Saint Macarius of Optina
“Journey to Heaven” by Saint Theophan the Recluse