Icon of the Life of St. Mary of Egypt
“It is good to hide the secret of a king, but it is glorious to reveal and preach the works of God” (Tobit 12:7)
So said the Archangel Raphael to Tobit when he performed the wonderful healing of his blindness. Actually, not to keep the secret of a king is perilous and a terrible risk, but to be silent about the works of God is a great loss for the soul. And I (says St. Sophronius), in writing the life of St. Mary of Egypt, am afraid to hide the works of God by silence. Remembering the misfortune threatened to the servant who hid his God-given talent in the earth (Mat. 25:18-25), I am bound to pass on the holy account that has reached me. And let no one think (continues St. Sophronius) that I have had the audacity to write untruth or doubt this great marvel — may I never lie about holy things! If there do happen to be people who, after reading this record, do not believe it, may the Lord have mercy on them because, reflecting on the weakness of human nature, they consider impossible these wonderful things accomplished by holy people. But now we must begin to tell (more…)
- 6 cups flour
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 sticks margarine
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 package dry yeast
- orange zest, to taste
- raisins, for eyes
Mix the warm water, yeast, sugar, and enough of the flour so that you have a batter about as thick as sour cream. Let the batter sit until it has risen slightly and is bubbly.
Add the rest of the flour, the margarine and the orange zest (if using). Knead well (about ten minutes). Place in a greased bowl and let rise until doubled in size.
Using a knife or pastry cutter, divide the dough into 40 pieces. Roll each piece into a long hot dog shape. Tie each piece into a knot. Make one end into the shape of a head for the bird by pinching a beak. The other end will be the tail feathers … with a knife create that look. Put a raisin on each bird for the eye.
Place on a greased baking sheet and bake for 20-30 minutes at 325 degrees.
Source for recipe and explanation of tradition: An Orthodox Kitchen used with slight adaptations under the Creative Commons License
The Holy Fathers considered that it was unbefitting the contrition of Great Lent to serve the full Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom or St. Basil the Great, so that these Liturgies are allowed only on Saturdays and Sundays of the Fast, as well as on the Feast of the Annunciation and Holy Thursday. In its place, on Wednesdays and Fridays of Great Lent, as well as on Thursday of the Fifth Week and the first three days of Passion Week, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is celebrated. [If the patronal feast of a church or monastery falls on a weekday of Great Lent, or if one of a small handful of major feasts fall thereon, the Presanctified Liturgy is celebrated on that day.] This Liturgy is called Presanctified, since the Holy Gifts were presanctified (or consecrated) on the previous Sunday. This Liturgy consists of Vespers, followed by a portion of the (more…)
By Fr. Seraphim Holland of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in McKinney, TX
The “Prayer of St Ephrem” is ubiquitous during Great Lent, and is used in all weekday services, and in prayers at home.
This prayer is much like the “Our Father,” in the following way. When the disciples asked the Lord to teach them to pray, He told them to “pray in this way”, and then recited the “Our Father”, thus giving us a model for how to pray and a prayer which perfectly fulfilled these principles. So should we treat the prayer of St Ephrem. Its content is truly sublime, and teaches us the (more…)
The Great Canon of St. Andrew is appointed to be read in four parts on the first four days of Lent during Great Compline. It is also read on the Fifth Thursday of Lent with the Life of St. Mary of Egypt. An explanation about the Great Canon can be found here.
Monday of the First Week of Lent [pdf]
Tuesday of the First Week of Lent [pdf]
Wednesday of the First Week of Lent [pdf]
Thursday of the First Week of Lent [pdf]
Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent [pdf]
By Fr. Seraphim Holland of St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church in McKinney, TX
The Great Canon of St Andrew, Bishop of Crete, is the longest canon in all of our services, and is associated with Great Lent, since the only times it is appointed to be read in church are the first four nights of Great Lent (Clean Monday through Clean Thursday, at Great Compline, when it is serialized) and at Matins for Thursday of the fifth week of Great Lent, when it is read in its entirety (in this latter service, the entire life of St Mary of Egypt is also read).
There is no other sacred hymn which compares with this monumental work, which St Andrew wrote for his personal meditations. Nothing else has its extensive typology and mystical explanations of (more…)
The Greek tradition of Kyra Sarakosti (“Lady Lent” in English) is a great activity for children to count down the weeks of Lent. This excerpt from The Festive Fast Cookbook explains the details of this custom:
…[W]hen there were no calendars and people wanted to have some sense of time during Great Lent (before Easter), they devised an easy method of doing this. They drew up an image of Sarakosti as a nun. They took a piece of paper and cut out a shape of a woman. Kyra Sarakosti does not have a mouth as she is fasting: her hands are crossed in prayer. She has seven feet for the seven weeks of Great Lent [including Holy Week]. Every Saturday one of her feet is cut. The last foot to be cut on Holy Saturday is folded and placed in a dried fig or nut and whoever finds it is considered to be lucky. (G.A. Mega, Greek Feasts) (more…)
The doors of repentance are opening, Great Lent is beginning. Every year Great Lent is repeated, and each time it brings us great benefit if we spend it as we should. It is a preparation for the life to come and, more immediately, a preparation for the Bright Resurrection.
Just as a stairway is built into a tall building in order to (more…)
O Lord and Master of my Life, take me from me the spirit of despondency, negligence, avarice, and idle talk. Prostration.
Grant unto me the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love. Prostration.
Yea, O Lord and King grant me to see my own sins and faults and not to judge my brother for blessed and glorified art Thou unto ages of ages. Amen.
Then twelve metanias (bows from the waist with the sign of the Cross). With each one we say:
O God, cleanse me a sinner.
And then the entire prayer:
O Lord and Master of my Life, take me from me the spirit of despondency, negligence, avarice, and idle talk. Grant unto me the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love. Yea, O Lord and King grant me to
see my own sins and faults and not to judge my brother for blessed and glorified art Thou unto ages of ages. Amen. Prostration.
Господи и Владыко живота моего, дух праздности, уныния, любоначалия и празднословия не даждь ми. (Поклон)
Дух же целомудрия, смиренномудрия, терпения и любве, даруй ми рабу Твоему. (Поклон)
Ей, Господи Царю, даруй ми зрети моя прегрешения, и не осуждати брата моего, яко благословен еси во веки веков, аминь. (Поклон)
Боже, очисти мя грешнаго,
(12 раз, и столько же малых поклонов, а потом всю молитву сначала подряд, а затем один великий поклон)
The lenten spring has shone forth; Let us set out with joy upon the season of the Fast.”
The majority of today’s Christians understand neither the cause for rejoicing, nor the meaning of a true fast. Many, very many people of this day and age regard the essence of the fast to consist solely in the prohibition of certain foods: meat, milk, cheese, eggs; and they do not understand the purpose of such a prohibition. Some who enjoy eating go so far as to become indignant at the Church for having established this tradition. “There is no reason for it; it’s unnecessary,” they say. “It makes no difference what you eat. ” And in practice they ignore the fast and make no effort to keep it. It is rare nowadays to find anyone who rejoices (more…)
For the value of fasting consists not in abstinence from food, but in withdrawing from sinful practices; since he who limits his fasting only to an abstinence from meats, is one who especially disparages it. Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works! Is it said by what kind of works? If you see a poor man, take pity on him! If you see in enemy, be reconciled to him! If you see a friend gaining honour, envy him not! If you see a handsome woman, pass her by! For let not the mouth only fast, but also the eye, and the ear, and the feet, and the hands, and all the members of our bodies.
Let the hands fast, by being pure from rapine and avarice. Let the feet fast, by ceasing from running to the unlawful spectacles. Let the eyes fast, being taught never to fix themselves rudely upon handsome countenances, or to busy themselves (more…)