Sundays in preparation of Great Lent
During the three week pre-Lenten season the church prepares us for repentance. She urges us to prepare ourselves through gradual diet modification and instructing us with themes of humility, judgment, repentance and forgiveness. The period is bounded by four Sundays. It marks the beginning of a time of preparation for the spiritual journey of Lent, a time for Orthodox Christians to draw closer to God through worship, prayer, fasting, and acts of charity. It is also on this day that the Triodion is introduced, a liturgical book that contains the services from this Sunday, the tenth before Pascha (Easter), to Great and Holy Saturday.
February 5th, 2017
Publican and the Pharisee (Luke 18:10-14)
This Sunday emphasizes humility as a key attitude for repentance. The Greek word for repentance is “metanoia”, which means a change of mind. To repent we must not boast of our spiritual feats, but humble ourselves like the Publican who longs for a change of mind. We are called to learn this secret of the inward poverty of the Publican rather than the self-righteousness of the Pharisee who is convinced of his perfectness and not open to change because of his pride. There is no prescribed fasting for this week.
February 12th, 2017
Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32)
This Sunday teaches us about our need to return from exile. This parable shows us the mercy of the Father who with open arms receives his son, whose behaviour he does not return, but is joyous of his return home. We are encouraged to examine ourselves in the period of Lent to purge ourselves of sin and “come home.”
The week that follows is called Meat Week (Kreatini) as it is the last week we are to eat meat. The normal rule of fasting is applied to this week, fast on Wednesday and Friday.
Saturday of this week is the Saturday of Souls where those who have fallen asleep in the hope of resurrection and eternal life are remembered at a special service “Saturday of the Souls.” Parishioners bring small dishes of kollyva to the church and submit a list of first names of deceased ones to the priest. After the Divine Liturgy we commend to God all those who have departed before us, who are now awaiting the Last Judgment, during the memorial service. This is an expression of the Church’s love for her children.
February 19th, 2017
Judgment (Meat-fare) Sunday (Matt 25:31-46)
This Sunday emphasizes the Last Judgment. We are reminded of our individual responsibility for love. The Lord tells us in the Gospel (Matthew 25: 31-46) we will be judged at the end according to the love we have shown for our brother. “I was hungry,thirsty,…naked,…a stranger,…in prison,…sick. Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine you did for Me.” Almsgiving goes hand in hand with fasting. This Sunday is called Meat fare because it is the last day meat is eaten before the Lenten Fast begins. We are encouraged not to eat meat this week, but we can eat eggs, cheese, other dairy products and fish.
February 26th, 2017
Forgiveness (Cheese-Fare) Sunday (Matt 6:14-21)
This Sunday emphasizes forgiveness and how we must forgive others if God is to forgive us so we can break the chains of sinful tendency which we inherit from the Adam and Eve. The Gospel lesson (Matthew 6: 14-21) read on this day tells us that our fast must not be hypocritical. Our work and our appearance are to continue as usual and our extra efforts are to be known only by God. The Gospel also reminds us that God the Father will forgive us in the same manner as we forgive our brother.
This is the last day of preparation as the traditional Lenten fast begins on the following day called Clean Monday, where no meat, dairy, eggs or fish are to be eaten according to the church tradition.
February 27th, 2017
Great Lent Begins – Clean Monday
Great Lent is the period that the Church has in her wisdom set aside for us to intensify our own spiritual growth through fasting, prayer and worship. If you follow the Church guidelines on fasting, make time to attend the services and intensify your own prayer life, you will be rewarded with a greater closeness to God. The fasting period along with the church services prepare our souls and bodies for Holy Week and the Resurrection. Our Holy Church entreats us to live a fuller life of prayer and repentance during this holy period of Lent. May Christ our true God enlighten us and help us live this holy period in its spiritual fullness so that we may ascend with Him on the holy path of the Golgotha and become worthy to see the holy light of His Resurrection.