Posts Tagged ‘Lent’

That’s the upshot of these words of the late Fr. Alexander Schmemann (OCA).  (Link may break after this year; I don’t know if it’s tied to today’s date, as Clean Monday or Pure Monday, the first day of the Great Fast this year, or not.)

An important liturgical and devotional tradition of Byzantine Christianity during the first week of the Fast is the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, a big Orthodox hymnwriter.  Here’s OrthodoxWiki’s briefer discussion, and at bottom of OrthodoxWiki’s article are links to the four portions of this great reflective hymn, sung in sequence Monday through Thursday nights during Great Compline, normally a Night Prayer service (links to service texts at bottom again).  There are also links to the Canon’s portions here.

…is a Patristic characterization of the Orthodox attitude during the Great Fast.  Archbishop LAZAR (Puhalo) from Canada expands upon this:

The Holy Prophet said, “Let the four fasts of the year be joy and gladness to Israel.” Truly, it is a time for repentance. But repentance is a joyous experience, a lifting of burdens, an illumination of the heart, and experience of Paradise. If Great Lent is truly a period of repentance, then how could [it] be other than joy and gladness in the midst of extra temptations, a foretaste of Pascha, a sense of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, because true repentance brings all these into the heart of the believer.

…or as some of us prefer, the Great Fast, or Great Lent, is today, Clean Monday (or Pure Monday), and runs till Lazarus Saturday, the day before Palm Sunday.  (Orthodox Easter, Pascha, is April 27, this year.)  Here’s the OCA’s piece on the start of the Fast.

This year the Orthodox Great Fast aka Great Lent begins on Monday, March 10, Clean Monday aka Pure Monday.  This week, Monday through Sunday, is Cheesefare Week, and last week was Meatfare Week.

During Meatfare, we eat-up any meat left in our houses, because we won’t have any more meat until Pascha, the Great Feast of Feasts, the Resurrection of the Lord.  This is where the carne in some Western countries’ Carneval aka Carnival comes from (as in chili con carne); the Western Church used to have similar Lenten fasting rules to Orthodoxy.  (That’s “flesh” as in meat, not as in sexual revelry!!)

During Cheesefare, we eat-up any dairy products left, same reason.  That is, milk, cheese, butter, anything from an animal’s udder.

(As usual, fasting rules tend to be lessened for the very young or old, or the sick, in consultation with your priest.)

However, I’m not aware of any Orthodox-influenced culture that ‘parties hardy’ all-out at this time like the well-known Mardi Gras or Carneval as in Brazil, Louisiana, or Quebec!  Though there is this! 😉