Sunday, February 9, 2014

The approach of Great Lent

Today is the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, which also marks the beginning of the Lenten Triodion.  Next week is the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, and after that we will have Meatfare Sunday, then Cheesefare Sunday, with Great Lent beginning the day after Cheesefare Sunday.

The more time I spend in the Church, the more I look forward to Great Lent.  At first, I was very apprehensive.  We had never fasted very strictly, and the ascetic discipline demanded of us seemed overwhelming at times.  But as time passes, I grow to appreciate the fasting seasons. 

Great Lent in particular is marked by repentance, fasting, almsgiving and prayer.  It is a quieter time, a time of great stillness and peace.  It is a time of renewal and love.  It is a time to put away worldly things and raise our thoughts to heavenly things.  It is a time to reflect on my own sinfulness, and to look past the sins of my brother, as the great Prayer of St. Efraim states:

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, meddling, lust of power and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to Thy servant.

Yea O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sin and not to judge my brother, for Thou art blessed unto ages of ages.  Amen.

As Great Lent approaches this year, I wish each of you a season of love for God and neighbor, and of hope and peace.  May the prayers of the most Holy Trinity be with us as we approach Christ's Pascha.