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]
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. Prostration.
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.
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…)
“If a man insults me, kills my father, my mother, my brother, and then gouges out my eye, as a Christian it is my duty to forgive him. We who are pious Christians ought to love our enemies and forgive them. We ought to offer them food and drink, and entreat God for their souls. And then we should say: ‘My God, I beseech Thee to forgive me, as I have forgiven my enemies.’”
Brethren! All our attention must be centered on the parable of the Prodigal Son. We all see ourselves in it as in a mirror. In a few words the Lord, the knower of hearts, has shown in the person of one man how the deceptive sweetness of sin separates us from the truly sweet life according to God. He knows how the burden of sin on the soul and body, experienced by us, impels us by the action of divine grace to return, and how it actually does (more…)
On the final day of his earthly life, the last thoughts of St. Mark were not for himself, but for Orthodoxy, to which he had devoted his whole life. Appealing to his followers to stand firm in the battle for Orthodoxy, he turned especially to one man in whom he hoped to find a successor to himself as leader in this battle. This hope was richly fulfilled in the person of George Scholarios, who became an ardent champion of Orthodox and, as first Patriarch of Constantinople after the fall of Byzantium, was instrumental in freeing the Church from the yoke of the false Union. He was subsequently canonized under his monastic name of Gennadios and is commemorated on August 31 (Source: Orthodox Christian Information Center).
I WISH TO EXPRESS MY OPINION in more detail, especially now that my death is approaching, so as to be consistent with myself from beginning to end, and lest anyone should think that I have said one thing and concealed (more…)