Great Lent : February 11 - March 31
The Great Lent will start Monday, February 11th and this is a time that many people look forward to for reflection and rejuvenation in our relationship with Christ. As we make this journey to the Cross this Lenten season, let us be mindful of our words, our actions and even our thoughts. Let this be a fast not only for our stomach but also for our tongues, our minds and our hearts.
Great Lent: ‘Restore Me To The Paradise From Which I Departed’ by Rev. Dn. Tenny Thomas
The primary aim of fasting is to make us conscious of our dependence upon God. It is to lead us to a sense of inward brokenness and contrition; to bring to us, that is, to the point where we appreciate the full force of Christ's statement, `Without Me you can do nothing’ (John 15:5). During the Great Lent, we have to strip ourselves from the specious assurance of the Pharisee who fasted, it is true, but not in the right spirit. Lenten abstinence gives us the saving self- dissatisfaction of the Publican (Luke 18:10-13). Such is the function of the hunger and the tiredness: to make us `poor in spirit', aware of our helplessness and of our dependence on God’s aid. Abstinence leads to a sense of lightness, wakefulness, freedom and joy.
Lent is a time of joy. It is a time when we come back to life. It is a time when we shake off what is bad and dead in us in order to become able to live, to live with all the vastness, all the depth, and all the intensity to which we are called. We are at the threshold of the Great Lent. We have to believe the power of fasting as it relates to prayer is the spiritual weapon that our Lord has given us to destroy the strongholds of evil. Fasting might seem hard, but with each passing day, God’s call will grow stronger and clearer. Finally, we will be convinced that God has called us to fast, and He would not make such a call without a specific reason or purpose. With this conviction, enter the Great Lent with excitement and expectancy mounting in our hearts, praying, Lord, “I have walked away from You and Your precepts. But now I return, merciful Lord, and cry to You: I have sinned.”
As we begin to fast, our confidence in the Lord will help us. The longer we fast, the more we sense the presence of the Lord. The Holy Spirit refreshes our soul and spirit, and we experience the joy of the Lord as seldom before. Biblical truths leap at us from the pages of God’s Word. Our faith soars as we humble ourselves and cries out to God and rejoices in His presence. Fasting calls on the Holy Spirit and brings us to repentance, prayer and almsgiving. We need to revive our commitment to fasting and prayer and the rest of the Church will respond to this call. Spent time in reading God’s word and make your time with the Lord more spiritually rewarding. There is no point in fasting and prayer until it equips you for spiritual awakening. Hope this Great Lent will not slip by without having made a genuine effort to prepare ourselves for the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Savior. “Let us set out with joy upon the season of the Fast, and prepare ourselves for spiritual combat. Let us purify our soul and cleanse our flesh; and as we fast from food, let us abstain also from every passion. Rejoicing in the virtues of the Spirit may we persevere with love, and so be counted worthy to see the solemn Passion of Christ our God, and with great spiritual gladness to behold His holy Passover.”
The whole journey into the Resurrection can become our own if we are able to stand in examination of our lives, see how far we have brought ourselves from the life God intends for us, and then long, truly long to return to our true home, to paradise. We must turn with tears toward the home from which we have sinfully departed and resolutely start our journey back, begging God’s forgiveness in our return. True repentance begins with the acknowledgement of self-imposed exile. Such knowledge pains us, but it is a pain that leads to action, and action that leads to reform. And as Christ re-forms us into His heavenly life, we begin truly to live. Apart from God, there is nothing. We have each experienced this ‘nothing,’ for we have each turned from God. But now, as we prepare to enter into Great Lent, we long for the great ‘something’ that is God’s love and sanctification. Begging His mercy we strive for true repentance, that we may receive His salvation in all joy.
“Behold, O Christ, the affliction of my heart; behold my turning back; behold my tears, O Savior, and despise me not. But embrace me once again in Your compassion and count me with the multitude of the saved, that with thanksgiving I may sing the praises of Your mercy.” I end with the words of Ephrem the Syrian from his hymn ‘On Fasting’: “This is the fast of the First Born, the first of His victories. Let us rejoice in His coming; for in fasting He has overcome. Though He could have overcome by any means, He revealed for us the strength hidden in fasting, Overcomer of All. For by means of it a man can overcome that one who with fruit overcame Adam; He became greedy and gobbled it. Blessed is the First-Born who encompassed our weakness with the wall of His great fasting. Blessed is the King who adorned the Holy Church with Fasting, Prayer and Vigil.” Rahaim ‘layn aloho abo aheed kool ethraham ‘layn.