Sunday, February 24 / March 09, 2014
The First and Second findings of the head of John the Forerunner
[Abba Moses said:] 'Fasts and vigils, the study of Scripture, renouncing possessions and everything wordly are not in themselves perfection, as we have said; they are its tools. For perfection is not to be found in them; it is acquired through them. It is useless, therefore, to boast of our fasting, vigils, poverty, and reading of Scripture when we have not achieved the love of God and our fellow man. Whoever has achieved love has God within himself and his intellect is always with God.'
—St. John Cassian, On the Holy Fathers of Sketis.
The feast of the Resurrection, Pascha, is the most important feast of the liturgical year. In order to prepare for this great day, the Church has appointed a time of fasting and preparation, which is called Great Lent. Great Lent begins on Clean Monday (February 18/March 3 this year), and lasts 40 days. After the 40 days, we begin Holy Week with the Feast of the Raising of Lazarus and Palm Sunday.
There are five Sundays during Lent:
In addition, there are multiple other commemorations that the Church has arranged for our spiritual edification.
If you are new to fasting, or are not sure you have been doing it properly, know that the first step is to find an experienced spiritual father; a priest or monk of our Metropolis, or of one of the monasteries or parishes of our Church in Greece. Fasting is not a discipline that can be self-directed, and should be part of a balanced spiritual life including attendence at the Divine Services, private prayer at home, acts of charity, and the reading of Holy Scripture.
The general rules of Lent are simple; Monday through Friday are strict fast, when we refrain from meat, dairy, fish, olive oil, and wine. Saturday and Sunday we are permitted wine and oil. On Annunciation, we are permitted fish.
If you are elderly, very young, sickly, or new to fasting, your spiritual father may give you a rule of fasting that is less strict than that which is described here. This is because fasting is not a set of rules and regulations, but a spiritual medicine that the spiritual father, as your spiritual doctor, determines will be for your benefit, taking in to account your state in life. We should refrain from judging those who do not fast as strictly as we do, while praying that they will grow in strength to do so.
In addition, there are extra services such as the Presanctified Liturgy and the Salutations that are prayed during the weekdays of Lent, and we should make every effort to attend these.
Fasting will be of no benefit to us, however, if we do not love our neighbors more than ourselves. Fasting is a tool in our arsenal against the Evil One, but it is useless if we bite the head off of our brother.
If you are living far away from a Church and cannot attend the services during Lent, contact our missions department below for advice on how to participate as best as you can. Spiritual growth is open to you even if you live a great distance.
Finally, dear readers, we pray that you will include us in your prayers, those who prepare this site for you, that we will remain firm, crossing the Sea of the Fast, and arriving at Pascha prepared.
The Icon of Christ used in the above banner is copyright Holy Transfiguration Monastery, Boston, MA, and used by permission.
The Church of the Genuine Orthodox Christians (GOC) of America is an Old Calendar Orthodox Church serving the faithful of North and South America. Having its roots in the Diocese of Astoria, founded by Metropolitan Petros (Astyfides) in 1954, it presently consists of two Metropolises (America and Toronto) and two dioceses (Portland and Boston), shepherded by five hierarchs.
The Church of the GOC of America is an autonomous Eparchy whose hierarchs are members of the Holy Synod of the Church of the GOC of Greece, under the Presidency of His Beatitude Archbishop Kallinikos of Athens and All Greece. We follow the Patristic (Julian) Calendar and resist the heresy of Ecumenism.
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