My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
HOLY LENT IS A TIME OF PILGRIMAGE AND LIBERATION
The Forty Days’ journey of Holy Lent recalls in particular the FORTY YEARS IN WHICH THE Chosen People journeyed through the wilderness. For us, as for the children of Israel, Lent IS A TIME OF PILGRIMAGE. It is a time for LIBERATION from the bondage of Egypt, FROM DOMINATION BY SINFUL PASSIONS, A TIME FOR UNEXPECTED REASSURANCE, WHEN IN OUR HUNGER WE ARE FED WITH MANNA FROM HEAVEN; A TIME WHEN GOD SPEAKS TO US OUT OF THE DARKNESS OF SINAI…
THE WEEKDAYS OF HOLY LENT. A characteristic ethos is given to the weekdays of Holy Lent by the frequently repeated PROSTRATIONS, used especially in conjunction with the PRAYER OF SAINT EPHRAIM:
‘O LORD AND MASTER OF MY LIFE, DO NOT PERMIT THE SPIRIT OF LAZINESS
AND MEDDLING, THE LUST FOR POWER AND IDLE TALK TO COME INTO ME. (Prostration).
INSTEAD, GRANT ME, THY SERVANT, THE SPIRIT OF PRUDENCE, AND
HUMILITY, PATIENCE, AND LOVE. (Prostration).
YES, LORD AND KING, GIVE ME THE POWER TO SEE MY OWN FAULTS
AND NOT TO JUST MY BROTHER (OR SISTER). (Prostration)
FOR THOU ART BLESSED UNTO THE AGES OF AGES. AMEN.
[ Please note: On Saturdays and Sundays of Holy Lent, when the strictness
of fasting IS RELAXED, the Prayer of Saint Ephraim is NOT SAID, NOR DO
WE MAKE PROSTRATIONS.]
Brief, sober, yet remarkably complete, this prayer takes us to the very heart of what Lent means.
Another distinctive feature of Holy Lent Weekdays IS THE LITURGY OF THE PRESANCTIFIED, celebrated according to present practice on each WEDNESDAY and FRIDAY, but at one time on every weekday of Great Lent.
Strictly speaking, the term ‘Liturgy’ is a misnomer, for there is NO EUCHARISTIC CONSECRATION at this service; it is simply the Office of Vespers, followed by the distribution of Holy Communion from elements consecrated on the previous Sunday. The full celebration of the Divine Eucharist, being always a festive and triumphant event, is felt to be inconsistent with the austerity of the Weekday Lenten Feast; and so already in the 4th Century, it was laid down that there should be NO COMPLETE CELEBRATION OF THE LITURGY DURING HOLY LENT EXCEPT ON SATURDAY AND SUNDAY. But so as to ENABLE THE FAITHFUL TO RECEIVE HOLY COMMUNION ON WEEKDAYS IN HOLY LENT — for in the ancient Church it was normal TO COMMUNICATE FREQUENTLY, and in some places daily — the order of the Presanctified Liturgy was devised.
Many moments in the Presnactified Liturgy recall the period when Holy Lent was A TIME OF LIGHT OR ‘ILLUMINATION’. Thus between the two Old Testament Lessons, the Priest, HOLDING THE CENSER AND A LIGHTED CANDLE, BLESSES THE CONGREGATION, SAYING: ‘THE LIGHT OF CHRIST SHINES UPON ALL’; and following the Litany for the Catechumens and their dismissal, there is during the second half of Holy Lent an additional Litany part ‘FOR THOSE WHO ARE READY FOR ILLUMINATION’. Each time we take part in the Liturgy of the Presanctified, we should ask ourselves: IN A WORLD THAT IS INCREASINGLY ALIENATED FROM CHRIST, WHAT HAVE I DONE SINCE LAST HOLY LENT TO SPREAD THE LIGHT OF THE GOSPEL? AND WHERE ARE THE CATECHUMENS IN OUR ORTHODOX CHURCHES TODAY?
On WEDNESDAYS and FRIDAYS in Holy Lent, as indeed throughout the year, the normal hymns to the Theotokos (Mother of God) known as ‘THEOTOKIA’ are replaced by ‘STAVROTHEOTOKIA’, that is, HYMNS REFERRING BOTH TO THE Cross and in and to the Theotokos, and describing the Mother’s grief as she stands beside the Cross of her Son. Through these hymns, WE ARE MADE CONSCIOUS OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN’S PARTICIPATION IN OUR OBSERVANCE OF HOLY AND GREAT LENT. (Source: The Lenten Triodion).
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George