The Great Lent

The purpose of Great Lent is to prepare the faithful to not only commemorate, but to enter into the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus. The totality of the Orthodox life centers around the Resurrection.[1] Great Lent is intended to be a "workshop" where the character of the believer is spiritually uplifted and strengthened; where his life is rededicated to the principles and ideals of the Gospel; where fasting and prayer culminate in deep conviction of life; where apathy and disinterest turn into vigorous activities of faith and good works.

The time of the Great Lent has come.

There are many monastic statutes and secular rules regarding the practice of Lent.

They all depend on the strictness of a given community, established spiritual traditions, climatic zone and geographic location, national and cultural customs of a particular country and means of nutrition. But they are all one in the strife of following the perfection of religious life, struggle with one's vices, strengthening of faith.

Inspired by such monastic disciplines, the laity also expresses the good desire of coming closer to the practice of the Great Lent according to all rules. This desire is reverend and holy. Asceticism brings great spiritual benifit both to a monk and a layman. Yet, it is imperative to have a proper assessment of one's capabilities, to place a logical order of pracitce and bulk up with reason. Otherwise, with  "good intentions" we can harm ourselves and those who are dear to us.

Without delving too much into the works of monastic disciplinarians, let us try to define paths of our parochial capabilities in a modern megapolis, in order to withstand the Great Lent with awake spirit, with benefit for the soul and in bodily health.

Therefore, let us turn our attention to certain positions of the rules of our fasting, on which we can base our modern practice of the Orthodox fast for laity:

-- chief goal of the Great lent -- to become closer to Christ

-- the most effective means of coming closer to Christ is through the lenten repentive prayer.


Archpriest Dr. Ioann Voloshchuk.