Overview of Great Lent

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Each year, the period of Great Lent lasts for the forty days before the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, of which the Orthodox faith is centered. Fasting, in general, is observed by Orthodox Christians to help them grow in their faith. Great Lent, however, is the most intense fasting period in the Orthodox Church.

Structure of Great Lent

Holy Lent is organized over a period of five Sundays, each with a different purpose. These Sundays are in place to help us celebrate Lent as we move towards His resurrection.

  • Sunday of Orthodoxy. This is the First Sunday of Great Lent and is a celebration of True Faith. On this Sunday, parishioner’s processes around the church with their icons as to celebrate when icons were allowed back into both the church and home.
  • Sunday of Saint Gregory Palamas. On the Second Sunday of Great Lent, Saint Gregory of Palamas, a monk who was born in the 1200’s is honored.
  • Sunday of the Holy Cross. On the Third Sunday of Great Lent, the Veneration of the Holy Cross is celebrated, which serves as a reminder for Christians to follow Christ.
  • Sunday of Saint John Climacus. The Fourth Sunday of Great Lent honors Saint John Climacus, who wrote The Ladder of Divine Ascent, which is an important work for Orthodox Christians.
  • Sunday of Saint Mary of Egypt. On the Fifth Sunday of Great Lent, Saint Mary of Egypt, also known as Mary Magdalene, is honored. Mary Magdalene is the prostitute who repented of her sins and then followed Christ.

Fasting Rules During Lent

Fasting is an important part of Great Lent and is seen as the strictest of the year. Although the original practices of fasting during Lent aren’t necessarily adhered to, it is definitely something for which to strive towards. Fasting during Lent also goes through stages. For example, a fairly strict fast is employed during Holy Week. Check with your priest for more details on what you should do.

All About Holy Week

Great and Holy Week commemorates the final days of Jesus Christ before His resurrection. It starts on Palm Sunday, which is when Christ makes his triumphant entry into Jerusalem, and ends with the Resurrection. Generally, fasting is at its strictest here in an effort to help us focus on Christ’s imminent sacrifice. Each service during Holy Week has a special purpose. For example, Holy Unction is included in the Holy Wednesday service and Holy Friday, also known as Good Friday, is when

Resurrection of Christ

The Forty Day Period of Great Lent is concluded once Christ resurrects from His tomb. Church lasts into the early morning, and then Greek Orthodox Christians celebrate with a feast filled with foods that were forbidden during Lent. These traditions differ from family to family.

However, the point remains the same. The period of Great Lent exists to prepare us for Christ’s Resurrection and is as much a time of spiritual self-reflection as it is a physical abstention from food.

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This post was written by Greek Boston