First Week of Great Lent

We have just finished the first week of Great Lent for this year.  Hopefully, we have changed to some degree in order to enter more into the spirit of the fast.  Great Lent is supposed to prepare us to celebrate joyfully the feast of the Lord’s Resurrection.  But in a greater way, it is meant to be a school of true Christianity, a time of repentance and redirecting our steps back onto the true path.  With all of the cares of contemporary life, we often get distracted from “the one thing essential.”  However, after participating in the deeply moving services of the first week, having entered into a “retreat” as it were, with ten hours daily of prayer and strict fasting, we hopefully will now spend the rest of the fast concentrated, each according to his strength, in the true meaning of our faith.

Last Sunday, in the evening, we all asked forgiveness of each other after a moving sermon given by our abbot, His Grace Bishop Luke.  He stated that forgiveness is a necessary condition of a true fast. God forgives, and we forgive.

            Monday’s services started a bit later, but every other day, all the monastics and seminarians and many of our neighbors as well as pilgrims started prayers at 5 am.  With a small break, the services continued until 1 pm, when there was a strictly Lenten lunch provided, the one meal of the day, consisting of bread, pickles, vegetables and fruit. 

            Every evening, Great Compline was served with the reading by Vladyka of the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete.  All week long, the two choirs of monastics and seminarians read and chanted antiphonally.  Vladyka read from the Holy Fathers during the appropriate moments appointed for this during the services. 

            It is the custom of our monastery, an ancient practice, that all the inhabitants of the monastery/seminary, monastics and seminarians, prepare all week for confession on Friday.  On the first Saturday of Lent, when the Church commemorates the miracle of St. Theodore Tiron, all the clergy serve with the bishop, and all, including our neighbors and pilgrims, partook of the Holy Mysteries.  This year, we had the added joy of celebrating the feast of the First and Second Finding of the Head of St. John the Baptist.  The monastery is blessed to have a relic of the Head of the Baptist.

            For sure, most of us are quite physically tired from the labors of the first week of Great Lent.  However, we must admit that we have experienced a very grace filled time of concentrated prayer with little distraction.  We are very grateful to God and also to the fathers of our monastery, who set up our traditions years ago and have provided this week, unique in our church calendar year, as a lesson in the essence of Christianity.  May we carry forth this spirit throughout the fast, to reach the harbor of the Lord’s Pascha!

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Holy Trinity Monastery
1407 Robinson Rd.
PO Box 36
Jordanville, NY 13361
Telephone: (315) 858-0940
FAX: (315) 858-0505