Catechesis by St. Theodore the Studite on Meatfare Sunday
Brethren and fathers, it is a universal law on this day for those who live in the world to stop eating meat and one may see among them great competition in meat-eating and wine-bibbing, and even spectacles of outrageous pastimes which it is shameful to speak about. It is necessary to participate with moderation and to give thanks to the Lord for what we have and to make worthy preparation for the banquet before us; while they possessed by the wiles of the devil do the opposite, demonstrating that they have accepted one rather than the other. Why have I mentioned these things? So that we humble monks may not direct our thoughts in that direction, nor desire their desire, which is not worthy of desire, but rather of misery; let us rather turn to consider the Gospel we are going to listen to, thinking, while the canon is being chanted, about the great and manifest day of the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, when the judge will stand the sheep on his right but the goats on his left. And to those on the right he will utter that blessed and most longed for invitation, Come, blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; while to those on the left he will utter that most unwelcome and piteous sentence, Depart from me, accursed, into the everlasting fire that was prepared for the devil and his angels. These words are full of dread, fear and alarm; they should make us, and them, as we reflect fall down and weep and make God merciful to us, before he has come to test those who listen. But although they are thus, let us, I beg, hear and heed the message of the Gospel, striving keenly to serve the Lord with fear and trembling, removing all wickedness from the soul, introducing instead all knowledge of good works, compassionate pity, goodness, humility, meekness, longsuffering, and whatever else is good and estimable, that when we have led lives worthy of the Gospel of Christ we may become heirs of the kingdom of heaven, in Christ Jesus our Lord, to whom belong glory and might with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.