Great Lent – Resources for the Journey
This year, Great Lent begins on Monday Feb 16. For every member of the Christian community, Lent is a time of spiritual training and renewed illumination. It is a time to realize afresh that, by virtue of our baptismal initiation, we are crucified, buried and risen with Christ; it is a time to reapply to ourselves the words of St. Paul, ‘I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me’ (Gal. 2:20). It is a time for us to listen more closely to the voice of the Spirit in whom we were sealed at our Chrismation, immediately after our ‘burial’ in the baptismal waters
The Church prescribes the forty days of fast in 6 weeks which ends on fortieth Friday before the Passion Week But the Fast gets completed only with the Easter and therefore it is also called fifty days Lent. In Eastern Christianity, generally, Saturdays, with the one exception of Holy Saturday, were not considered days of fasting. But in reckoning the number forty it was the custom to count continuously, including Saturdays and Sundays in the calculation. Thus the forty days began on the first Monday in Lent and ended on Friday in the sixth week; then came Lazarus Saturday, Palm Sunday and Holy Week, which, while distinct from the forty days, were treated as part of the Lenten Fast in the broader sense. In this way the forty days and Holy Week together constituted a fast of seven weeks. So it is that Lent begins on Ash Wednesday in Western Christendom, while commencing in the East two days earlier on Monday.
The Monday, the beginning of the Great Lent, there is a special service called the service of reconciliation (Shubukono)(our parish service Sunday after service) and the purpose of which is that the faithful enter into the season of Fasting having reconciled with all. This means that the Fast is holy and being holy it would become proper only if it is approached with preparation.
Lent is a season of soul-searching and repentance and its through prayers, liturgies, fasting prostrations, repentance, charity, solemn hymns, and prayers for the sick. Lent gives us time to contemplate on matters of the spirit, to concentrate on the more important matters of life, our life with Christ. So it is a time basically to be in touch with Our Creator.
The original purpose of the Great Lent was the fasting of catechumens who were being prepared for baptism and entry into the Church. However, it quickly became a time for those who were already Christian to prepare for the feast of the Resurrection of Christ. It is the living symbol of man’s entire life which is to be fulfilled in his own resurrection from the dead with Christ. It is a time of renewed devotion: of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. It is a time of repentance, a real renewal of minds, hearts and deeds in conformity with Christ and his teachings. It is the time, most of all, of return to the great commandments of loving God and neighbors
During the Great Lent the Orthodox Church ,focuses on three basic disciplines; fasting ,prayer and almsgiving. The true meaning of fasting is not in the type of food we eat during Lent. This is only physical, but more importantly is our spirits.
Lent provides each person an annual opportunity for self-examination and improving the standards of faith and morals in his Christian life. To sum up, we should observe the Great Lent meaningfully as our Lord Jesus Christ exhorts in the Lenten season “Love one Another”. Do not let this Lent go past without something changing in your life for the better. May the blessing of the Great Lent be with you all.
May God Bless us.