Preparing For Great Lent
The season of Great Lent will soon be upon us! As Orthodox Christians, the ushering in of this beautiful season of the Church year is a cause for much spiritual joy!
While it is true that we are called to “give up” certain things during this season, such as meat and dairy products, and unnecessary activity, it is in reality a time where we receive much more than we give up, if we willingly embrace it.
When we fast, we lighten our bodies, so that we can pray more attentively. When we participate in the “bright sadness” of the Lenten services and sing the beautiful Lenten melodies and hymns, our hearts are softened and we experience the peace of God which passes all understanding. When we secretly perform acts of charity and love to “the least of the brethren...” expecting nothing in return, we receive back in greater measure, the rich blessings of God.
So you see, this season is designed to help restore our spiritual balance, and improve our spiritual insight. By slowing down and embracing the change in our lifestyle we once again discover the “things most needful” in life, that happiness is not found in the endless pursuit of worldly possessions, fame and fortune, but in our ability to love others and to experience the love of God.
Make no mistake, when we with Our Lord’s help increase our efforts to grow spiritually, the Evil One, Satan is not amused and steps up his efforts to lead us into temptation and sin. This is why Lent is a time of personal and communal struggle. During this season we need to pray for and with one another.
During Lent, we are in the words of the Apostle Peter, encouraged to “take up the whole armor of God” and fast to the best of our ability, pray more, both at home and by attending as many Lenten Services as possible, and demonstrate our recommitment to pursuing the path of holiness by showing love to others in a practical and tangible manner.
Let us willingly embrace, the season of Great Lent and as ACRY members let us take the lead in our parish communities to assist those in need. There are many worthwhile causes for us to support: the Annual Lenten Project sponsored by the National JR ACRY for the benefit of St. John the Compassionate Mission in Toronto; the ACRY Blessing fund, for the assistance of critically ill children and their families; and those in your local communities. Let us as well, plan ourselves, and be the driving force in our parishes for encouraging others, to attend the Diocesan Lenten Retreats.
By making the most of this Holy Season, by the Grace of God, may we truly be spiritually transformed through our participation in the Saving Passion, Death and Third Day Resurrection of our Lord God and Saviour Jesus Christ.
May the Blessing of the Lord, through His Grace and Love for mankind be upon all of us! Amen!
Very Rev. Protopresbyter Peter Paproski