Well we are getting ready to step into Lent, leading up to Pascha; what a wonderful and exciting time of the year.
Great Lent is the 40-day season of spiritual preparation that comes before the most important Feast of the Christian year, Holy Pascha (which means “Passover” and is commonly called “Easter”,). It is the central part of a larger time of preparation called the Triodion season.
The Triodion begins ten weeks before Easter and is divided into three main parts: three Pre-Lenten weeks of preparing our hearts, the six weeks of Lent, and Holy Week. The main theme of the Triodion is repentance—mankind’s return to God, our loving Father.
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. This past Sunday was the beginning with The Publican and the Pharisee, (Luke 18:10-14).
This annual season of repentance is a spiritual journey with our Savior. Our goal is to meet the risen Lord Jesus, Who reunites us with God the Father. The Father is always waiting to greet us with outstretched hands. We must ask ourselves the question, “Are we willing to turn to Him?”
During Great Lent, the Church teaches us how to receive Him by using the two great means of repentance— prayer and fasting.
You can find an online Lenten Triodion music here!
The Lenten Triodion is the service book of the Orthodox Church that provides the texts for the divine services for the pre-Lenten weeks of preparation, Great Lent, and Holy Week. The Lenten Triodion is the title of a classic and popular English book translated with an extensive and helpful introduction by Metropolitan Kallistos and Mother Mary; it provides many (but not all) of the texts necessary to observe the great fast. In Greek and Slavonic it is simply called the triodion. It is called the triodion because the canons appointed for Matins during this period are composed of three odes each.
The weeks of preparation, and especially the Sunday gospel readings, serve to exercise the mind, whereas the fasting of Great Lent focuses on the body, and Holy Week’s services exercise the spirit.
Weeks of preparation
The three weeks that commence on the fourth Sunday prior to Great Lent constitute the weeks of preparation. Each has its own distinct theme which is expressed in the Gospels readings appointed for the Divine Liturgies on these days:
- 1. Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee (Luke 18:9-14),
- 2. Sunday of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32), and
- 3. Sunday of the Last Judgment (also called Meatfare Sunday; Matt 25:31-46).
- 4. Sunday of Forgiveness (also called Cheesefare Sunday; the expulsion of Adam from Eden is also a theme of this day); Matt 6:14-21.
The Church eases us into the Lenten fasting discipline during this period. The week following the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee is fast-free. The week following the Prodigal Son is a normal week — we fast as usual on Wednesday and Friday. In the week following Meatfare Sunday, no meat is eaten; eggs, fish, and dairy are permitted on any day.
Forgiveness Sunday brings the period of preparation to an end. The next day, Clean Monday, begins Great Lent. The Vespers service served on the evening of Forgiveness Sunday includes the Rite of Mutual Forgiveness and is the first service of Great Lent.
- 1. Sunday of Orthodoxy (John 1:43-51),
- 2. Sunday of St. Gregory Palamas,
- 3. Sunday of the Holy Cross,
- 4. Sunday of St. John Climacus, and
- 5. Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt.
A PRAYER FOR LENT
The Prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian is traditionally said many times throughout each day during Great Lent, in addition to our daily prayers.
O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, faintheartedness, lust of power, and idle talk. (+)
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to your servant. (+)
Yes, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sin and not to judge my brother, for You are blessed from all ages to all ages. Amen. (+)