Holy Lent is an Opportunity for Renewal

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Lent is a solemn period of spiritual fasting that lasts for forty days before Easter. It is during this time that Christians are instructed to fast, pray, and attend church on a regular basis. In short, it is an opportunity for spiritual renewal. However, many of us just go through the motions without realizing why we’re doing it. Here’s some information that should give us new insights into how we approach Holy Lent.

Definition of Lent

Great Lent begins forty days before the Saturday of Lazarus, which is actually the day before Palm Sunday. Although Holy Week is an important part of the events that lead up to Pascha, it isn’t technically a part of Lent. The reason it isn’t included is that Lent is meant to prepare us for Christ’s ultimate sacrifice, the events of which Holy Week is a part. This is the strictest period of fasting on the Orthodox calendar.

Self Discipline

In order to achieve spiritual renewal, self-discipline needs to be observed. The purpose of fasting isn’t to make us feel deprived. Rather, by abstaining from certain foods, we free the ultimate hold that food has on us. How many of us eat without paying attention to what we’re doing? This mindlessness is a living example of how easy it is to go through the motions concerning our relationship with God, as well. By exercising control over what we eat, we engage our mind on the task at hand – to observe Holy Lent in a way that helps us prepare for Jesus’s death and resurrection.

Holy Eucharist

Though there are multiple church services throughout the week during Great Lent, the full Divine Liturgy service isn’t performed. If Holy Eucharist is taken, it is part of a pre-sanctified liturgy. This means that the Eucharist is prepared on Sunday and then taken during a special service during the week. The reason for this is because Holy Eucharist is looked at as a joyous event. Since Holy Lent precedes His resurrection, it is a generally solemn period of time.

Joy in Renewal

Although the period of Great Lent is fairly solemn, there is a sense of joy in what’s to come. When Christ died on the cross, He did so to save us from our sins. A sin is something that is displeasing to God. The Bible offers guidelines, such as the Ten Commandments, that give us a benchmark in how to behave. We sin when we do something that is contrary to God’s law. In the Old Testament, people would offer a sacrifice, often an animal such as a lamb, to God to atone for the sin. Jesus is called the Lamb of God because he sacrificed His life for us. He is our sacrificial lamb.

In order to truly appreciate Pascha and the sacrifice that Jesus made for us, observing Lent is a necessity. For more information on the best way to approach Lent, please speak with your priest. Every situation is unique and though the church has certain guidelines, it is up to you and your priest to decide the best way for you to adhere to them.

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This post was written by Greek Boston