The Apostle – February 2013
Beloved in Christ,
As God would have it, Pascha, and therefore the start of the Great Fast falls very late in the year. Lent will begin on March 18, and Pascha falls on May 5. What shall we do with this “extra” time between the Epiphany and Lent? You may be saying, “What do you mean, Father, by ‘extra’ time? We will be working, caring for our children, studying in school, fulfilling our obligations.” What I mean is this: So often we seem to be caught unaware by Lent. It is easy, being as busy as we all are, not to get into the “swing of things” until Lent is well underway. Well, we have less of an excuse this year!
I am challenging you to take some concrete steps to get ready for the Great Fast this year.
- Observe the Wednesday and Friday fast.
- Look at your church calendar, and note that the pre-Lenten period begins on Sunday February 24th (the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee) with a fast free week. The following week is a “regular” week, with Wednesday and Friday as fasting days. Then we transition to Lent with a week of fasting from meat products (the week of Cheese fare) starting on Monday, March 11. During this week we are allowed to eat eggs and dairy products, even on Wednesday and Friday. The last day of Cheese fare is Sunday March 17. Lent or the Great Fast begins the next day. Most importantly, mark these days on your personal calendars, your family calendars, your smart phoness, and all the places and devices that you use to organize your time.
- Plan ahead: Make meal plans, dig out those Lenten recipes. If you have children, involve them in this planning, so that Lent is not “imposed” upon them, but simply part of your family’s life. Perhaps together you may agree that each night of Lent will have a regular menu (i.e. Monday’s dinner will be black beans and rice, Tuesdays another dish, and so on). If not everyone in the home is Orthodox, or there are special dietary needs, discuss how to accommodate these realities. You should also check with your priest on these matters for guidance.
- Note that beginning the week of Monday March 18 there will be a Wednesday evening Liturgy of Pre-Sanctified Gifts, and a Friday evening Akathistos Service every week. Mark these on your calendars as well, and think how you (and your family) can be present at as many of these services as humanly possible. Also plan to intensify your prayer life and your alms-giving during this season.
- Plan to come for Holy Confession, early in Lent. Lent is the “springtime of the soul.” It is important, therefore, to cleanse our souls through this Sacrament, in order to prepare for the glorious Pascha.
Let us therefore use the extra weeks given to us this year to prepare ourselves for the wonderful and God-given opportunity that is Lent.
Yours in Christ,
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