The holy fathers say that every single good work is not without temptation before it is done, during the undertaking, or after it is finished. The same rule may be applied during the time of the great feasts of the church. Always, something happens: an offence, an argument, an upset, a loss, a deprivation. It is not so important that something takes place, what is most important is that the festive joy and the grace of God abandon us if we do not stand on guard of heart, and do not cut off the evil and negative thoughts that try to overwhelm us during the time of temptation.
Often, we ourselves are the cause of our falls: giving into dreams about how we are going to celebrate a feast, we prepare a snare for ourselves – as soon as something doesn’t go the way we planned, we get angry, weak in soul, irritable and start complaining. A certain paradox takes place: we celebrate the Lord’s feasts, yet (maybe not even noticing it ourselves) wish for everything to be according to our will.
It happens, sometimes, that someone offends us unjustly, bringing us to a state of confusion by a word, or by deed. In those instances, it is most appropriate to recall the teaching of St. Nilus of Sinai, from his word on anger:
“If anyone is hurt by the evil words of another, not attributing them to the devil as their source, then he only encourages the enemy all the more to prepare arrows for him, in that his soul falls, being wounded by such evil speech.”
We should memorize these words in order not to fall into the same trap time after time.
On the whole, every good work requires attention and sobriety because the enemy never sleeps and always looks for a way to spoil the labours we undertake for God’s sake.
Once, St. Anthony the Great was shown all the snares of the devil. The Saint cried out: “O Lord, who can escape all these?” Then, from heaven, there came a voice unto him that said: “Humility”. Humility, in all boldness, may be called the root of all virtues. Humility will always protect and preserve us from harm in all temptations. Therefore, during the great feasts of the Lord, let us seek to be filled with humility, because, being filled with it, we will be filled with joy, peace, and God’s grace. Amen.