Fasting and Great Lent


The purpose of Great Lent is to prepare the faithful to not only commemorate, but to enter into the Passion and the Resurrection of Jesus. The totality of the Orthodox life centers around the Resurrection.[1] Great Lent is intended to be a “workshop” where the character of the believer is spiritually uplifted and strengthened; where his life is rededicated to the principles and ideals of the Gospel; where fasting and prayer culminate in deep conviction of life; where apathy and disinterest turn into vigorous activities of faith and good works. Lent is not for the sake of Lent itself, as fasting is not for the sake of fasting. Rather, these are means by which and for which the individual believer prepares himself to reach for, accept and attain the calling of his Savior. Therefore, the significance of Great Lent is highly appraised, not only by the monks who gradually increased the length of time of the Lent, but also by the lay people themselves. In the Orthodox Church, asceticism is not exclusively for the “professional” religious, but for each layperson as well, according to their strength. As such, Great Lent is a sacred Institute of the Church to serve the individual believer in participating as a member of the Mystical Body of Christ. It provides each person an annual opportunity for self-examination and improving the standards of faith and morals in his Christian life. The deep intent of the believer during Great Lent is encapsulated in the words of Saint Paul: “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal of the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:13-14).
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HOW ARE YOU APPROACHING LENT?

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2 responses to “Fasting and Great Lent

  1. Andrew Vernon March 9, 2011 at 3:41 pm

    Resources for Lent 2011

    I am approaching my first Lent in the Orthodox church with a mixture of excitement and apprehension! One thing that is helping me is reading the content of the services for the day if I can’t attend those services. For example, this week, the evening services feature the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. The text is available here:http://www.monachos.net/content/liturgics/seasonal/lent
    There is a lot of other interesting material relating to Lent on this site.

    I am also finding it really useful to listen to the podcasts on the Names of Jesus by Father Thomas Hopko, archived here on Ancient Faith Radio:http://ancientfaith.com/podcasts/namesofjesus
    By listening to these very engaging talks during my lunch hour, I am learning some essential theology/Christology without having to read anything.

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