At 3PM on Sunday, March 14, after the usual hierarchal Divine Liturgy, the brethren of the monastery along with the seminarians and gathered for Great Vespers, which started as a hierarchal service with the formal meeting of our abbot, His Grace, Bishop Luke, and his vesting.
After the Geat Prokeimenon, the service changed to a simple Great Lenten service officiated by one of the hieromonks. For the first time the Prayer of St. Ephraim was chanted at the end of the service.
In the evening, Small Compline was served with evening prayers being read at the end. This was followed by Vladyka coming out onto the amvon and giving a brief sermon on the meaning of Great Lent and also how in order to truly repent we must ask forgiveness of each other. He then asked forgiveness of all those gathered, and then proceeded the general Forgiveness Rite. All of the brethren, the seminarians and neighbors participated in this moving ritual.
The following morning, at 5:30 am, we gathered for the Midnight Office, which was followed by Matins and First Hour, during which Vladyka read from the Holy Fathers soul-profitable passages as appointed. This was followed by the veneration of the icons and getting Vladyka’s blessing for the day. A small break was followed by the hours and vespers. The morning services were completed with a Litya for the dead. Although there is no liturgy during Great Lent on weekdays, except for the Presanctified Liturgy, every day, the dead listed in the monastery commemoration books are read by the brethren.
This is followed by the one meal of the day, which largely consists of pickled vegetables, bread, and other foods with no oil. At 6PM in the evening, once again we gathered for the reading of the Great Canon by His Grace and the Great Compline service, which is filled with compunctionate chanting.
On Wednesday and Friday, Vladyka served the very moving Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, along with the monastery clergy. On Friday, this was followed by the Canon to St. Theodore Tiron with the blessing of boiled wheat in memory of the miracle performed by him in ancient Constantinople.
Friday evening all of those who live in the monastery and seminary partook of the mystery of Confession in order to commune of the Holy Mysteries on the first Saturday of Great Lent, that of St. Theodore. In this way, Holy Trinity Monastery and Seminary set the tone for the rest of Great Lent, which we pray will be one of repentance and spiritual renewal.