A compilation of three parishioners’ questions for Fr. Andrew Lemeshonok, the spiritual father of St. Elisabeth Convent.
How Should a Disabled Person Fast?
Q: Father Andrew, I am wheelchair-bound. It is the Lent now, and I do my best to keep the fast but doctors won’t let me observe all rules of fasting, saying that I mustn’t be hungry. Anastasia.
A: Everyone is given according to their strength.
Rich Israelites had a lot of money and they threw large sums into the Temple donation box, while the poor widow only had two small coins. However, the Lord said that the widow had donated more (See Luke 21: 1‒4).
The same is true for our abilities, both physical and mental. God does not demand that we starve and be exhausted by fasting. God demands us to limit our consumption. This abstinence should not ruin our body; in fact, it should make it stronger.
That’s why you should observe fasting rules to the best of your abilities. I believe it’s doable.
Is It Better to Pray Aloud or in My Head?
Q: Father, could you please tell me: if I pray in my head without uttering a word, can the Lord and the saints hear my prayer? Or should I pray aloud instead? Vladimir.
A: Of course, they can hear you.
It isn’t always easy to pray in your head sometimes. When we say prayers out loud, we hear them and can pay more attention to the words that we read. It is easier for us to understand them and keep them in our hearts.
The most challenging aspect of prayer is to be attentive and not get distracted. That’s when a prayer can nurture your soul, transform and change you. You have to train yourself and to work hard to be attentive.
You are where your mind is. That’s why it is great if you pray both privately and aloud. Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above (James 1: 17)
Is There Any Meaning to Be Found in Dreams?
Q: Hello Father. Could you please tell me what to make of bad dreams? What does it mean if I have a dream in which my relative dies or a dead person calls someone who is alive? I know that’s just a dream but it’s very scary. Thanks in advance. Irina.
A: We should be wary of taking dreams at face value.
The Lord orders us, Be vigilant (See Mark 13:37; Matthew 26:41; Mark 14:38), because the thief can sneak in from anywhere. When an individual is asleep, there is a lot of negative suggestions that can break into our minds and do damage to us if we accept them. If we have a dream of a dead relative or friend of ours, we can pray for the repose of that person’s soul, and it would be helpful in any case. However, holy people strongly advised against accepting the messages you’re getting while asleep and trusting your dreams because you may be tricked.
The devil is looking for all kinds of loopholes to catch you, deprive you of self-control, and make you docile. If you are superstitious and you have a dream, which later comes true by accident, you may give up on God and become terrified. Fears prevent us from trusting God and believing in him. That’s a pitiful condition that we can lead ourselves into.