All of the great spiritual insight of the holy fathers and mothers of the Church must be accepted with discernment. The insight into the human psyche (soul) is eternal—human beings are human beings whether it is the fourth century or the twenty-first. However, the specific acetic practices and disciplines that work very well in one context might not work well at all in another. This applies not merely to the differences between monastic life and family life, but it applies also to the differences of culture and lifestyle among people who live in the world
For example, I know someone who lived in a city in the southern U.S. and ate as a vegan all year around. She did this for no reason other than it seemed a more globally sustainable life-choice and she didn’t like the idea of killing animals unnecessarily (and, perhaps—and this may just be my cynicism—also because it was a socially cool choice that also helped her keep her weight under control). However, when she married a farmer and moved to the Canadian prairies things changed. Fresh vegetables and fruit were pretty expensive a lot of the year, and meat and eggs were basically free (at least on her farm). Now when this woman was in her vegan stage, lenten fasting was almost no sacrifice whatsoever. Fresh fruits and vegetables were cheap and easily available all winter, so there was basically no change in her diet during the fast. However, on the Canadian prairies, keeping a lenten fast costs quite a bit more. First, it represents a radical change of diet. Those of us who have kept a strict lenten fast and then feasted on the paschal lamb know what kind of suffering one can undergo switching from a diet high in animal protein to a diet high in plant-based protein, and back again. Second, it cost a lot more money to buy fresh fruits and vegetables imported from halfway around the globe, and consequently, there is much more reliance on high carbohydrate (read: fattening) foods. Thus it becomes very hard to keep from gaining several pounds during the still very cold days of lent on the Canadian prairies.
LIFE AFTER DEATH
by Saint Paisios of Mount Athos
--Geronda [Elder], when a person dies, does he become immediately aware of his spiritual condition?
--Yes, he does, and says to himself, "What have I done?" But the result in fayda yok, [An expression in the Turkish language, which means: "There is no benefit, there is no progress or success".) that is, this awareness is of no benefit. This can be likened to a drunk man who kills his mother and goes on singing and laughing, but who, upon becoming sober and realizing what he has done, will wail and lament and say, "What have I done?" In much the same way, those who commit wrongdoings in this life are like drunken men. They don't understand what they're doing; they don't have a sense of their guilt. But when they die, this "drunkenness" disappears and they become aware of their real condition. The eyes of their soul are opened and they realize their guilt, because the soul, when separated from the body, moves, sees and perceives with an inconceivable speed.