These quotes are taken from parts of the 'Spiriual Counsels' series of Elder St Paisos which are available in the monastery bookstore and are presented to help you start Lent 'right' with the correct approach and motivation for its goals and practices.
The Need to Ask God for Help
“In order for God and the Saints to help, one must desire it and ask for it; otherwise, they do not intervene. Christ asked the paralytic: ‘Do you wish to be healed?’ If one refuses, God respects his wish. If one does not wish to go to Heaven, God will not take him there… If someone asks for help, God and the Saints give it. In the wink of an eye they will have helped you. Often, you can’t even bat an eyelid before they have already helped you. This is how fast God comes to your aid.”
Small Steps to Take
During Great Lent, we are given a greater opportunity to struggle and participate more intensely in the Saving Passion of Christ: with our repentance and prostrations; with the cutting off of our passions; with a reduction of our food intake. For the love of Christ.
The Benefits for Those Who Receive Alms
When someone takes pains to give alms, (continues the Elder) the beggar burns with the love of Christ and he will begin to share and not collect more. But even if the beggar is very hard-hearted, he will not enjoy all that he collects, and God will make sure that the money goes to its proper place. For that man there will be
only fatigue and affliction for the “fund-raising” (let’s call it that) that he did for others.
The Benefits for Those Who Give Alms
Wealth brings destruction upon people because they do not give to the poor for the benefit of their souls and of the souls of those who have passed away. Giving alms to the afflicted, widows, orphans etc. aids in the repose of the departed. Because, when someone gives alms for the sake of a departed soul, this causes others to say: "May God have mercy upon that departed soul. May his bones be sanctified."
The Most Important Element of Fasting
Now, during Lent, those in the world take greater care to cultivate temperance, but we monks must always be careful. What is more important, though, is to be
careful with the passions of the soul and then the body’s. Because if one prioritizes bodily asceticism over them and does not struggle to eradicate the passions of the soul,
he will accomplish nothing.
Receiving the Full Benefit of the Season of Lent
We must make use, as much as we can, of all the opportunities this spiritual arena offers to us, in order to approach closer to the Crucified Christ. Then, we will helped by Him and rejoice spiritually at His Holy Resurrection since we would have experienced more spiritually Great Lent.
Ι pray that God gives you strength during Great Lent, so that you may climb Golgotha and be near Christ there, together with the Theotokos and your patron Saint, John the Theologian, and that you may be granted worthy to participate in the awesome Passion of our Lord. Amen.