Prepare for Great Lent, 2022
We are fast approaching on the Great Lent for this year 2022. We are in between two Lents: the smallest, but strict & rigorous three days fast and biggest, but solemnest Fifty days Great Lent, just weeks after Epiphany and 18 days before the Great Lent. This interval between two Lents of 18 days, is known as the ‘Pathinettida’ (interval or gap of 18 days.) There are two Pre-Lenten Sundays during this 18 days, the first Sunday *(hadbšabo d kohné – Kohne Sunday)* the Holy Church remembers the entire departed clergy and spiritual fathers and on the second Sunday *(hadbšabo d anidé – Aneeda Sunday)*. The Holy Church remembers all the departed faithful.
Thus a precursor and forerunner to Great Lent, that occupies a special place in our spiritual and liturgical life. Remember the Holy Church is fasting or observing the lent and all the departed ones are a part and parcel of the Holy Church join us in the war against the devil and his forces.
The Great Lent of 50 days is a long journey and we travelers get weary; we get distracted and wander off or even lose sight of the road. To help keep us focused, the Church every year compresses for us this journey as it prepares us to greet the Feast of Christ’s Resurrection. This preparatory time is the joyous period of Great Lent. Without this preparation, without this expectant waiting, the deeper meaning of the Easter celebration will be lost.
The centre of the liturgical year in the Orthodox Church is Kymtha, the celebration of Christ’s Resurrection, (Hebrew, Aramaic – Pascha) the greatest of the feasts, Feasts of feasts and Triumph of triumphs. Justifiably so, for as the Apostle Paul declares, “if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (I Cor. 15:14). The sense of resurrection joy forms the foundation of all the worship of the Orthodox Church. This is the goal of our life-long spiritual journey, a journey from death to life, from darkness to light – a restoration to paradise from which we have departed. Because of the significance and holiness of Great Lent, the Church designated a week of preparation to precede the Great Lent.
The first Sunday is set apart to remember, our departed clergy. Our departed clergy stand as a strong hold for us believers in our spiritual journey. They fed us the spiritual sustenance into our life and nurtured and demonstrated the eminence of our spiritual lives. The most precious treasure of the Church was guarded and handed over by our departed clergy, for us to enjoy its serenity and richness, and be blessed. St. Paul reminds us ‘Remember your leaders, those who spoke the word of God to you; consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith’. (Heb. 13:7). They are part of our spiritual journey of our salvation, guiding us, leading us and shaping us into Eternity.
The next Sunday is set apart to remember all our faithful departed. This Sunday the Church remembers the departed and offer prayers for them so that the purified souls will be assured of God’s grace in Heaven. The greatest sign of our love for our dearly departed loved ones is to pray for them. We are to remember our parents, brethren and other beloved in our prayers and Holy Eucharist.
The Lenten season is like a period of war. These 18 days before the Great Lent, is also equally important as the Lenten season and kept separate and set apart by the Church Fathers. A time, to prepare for the spiritual war. A time, to equip and arm, to defeat the great devil and his forces. A time to tune our faculties, body, mind, and soul, as preclude to the Great Lent. The faithful try to prepare for this long journey ahead, with repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation, prayer, fasting, almsgiving, and study. The Church is teaching us to prepare for Great Lent in a spiritual manner, that the Holy Church can continue, accustoming the faithful to ascetical struggle of fasting and gradual incorporation of abstinence.