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Lenten Resources

A Letter From Father Christopher

Let us begin the fast with joy!

Let us prepare ourselves for spiritual efforts!

Let us cleanse our soul and cleanse our flesh!

Let us abstain from every passion as we abstain from food!

Let us rejoice in virtues of the Spirit and fulfill them in love,

that we all may see the Passion of Christ our God,

and rejoice in spirit at the Holy Pascha!

Dear friends and faithful of Holy Cross,

Glory to Jesus Christ!

Don't let Great Lent pass you by! I encourage each one of you to take some time to think about your Lenten effort. It is important to remember that Great Lent is a time for increased prayer and reflection. We enter into the “bright sadness” of Great Lent in order to recall our need for salvation, our need for communion with our Lord. It is during these life-giving days that we once again understand that all that we can offer is our repentance with tears begging for our Lord to shower us with His loving-kindness - this healing in and through our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us this year take it seriously and create a space for this spiritual renewal.

We tend to think of repentance as something negative but as I mentioned in the homily on cheesefare Sunday, quoting Metropolitan Kallistos Ware, “Correctly understood, repentance … is to see, not what we have failed to be, but what by divine grace we can now become; and it is to act on what we see. To repent is to open our eyes to the light.”

The church prescribes prayer, fasting, and almsgiving as the “three-legged stool” that undergirds our spiritual effort. I have again this year attached a great article from the introduction to the Lenten Triodion (the prayer book the church uses during the Fast) by Metropolitan Kallistos Ware. He warns that “… divorced from prayer and from the reception of the holy sacraments, unaccompanied by acts of compassion, our fasting becomes pharisaical or even demonic.” He also stresses that “… the primary aim of fasting is to make us conscious of our dependence on God.” Let us use this approaching time of Great Lent as a spiritual springtime for us.

St. Paul encourages us to “lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of Go. (Hebrews 12:2).

Ultimately we want our fasting to lead us closer to Christ, nearer to this resurrected life in Christ. Great Lent is the time that we identify with Christ in His voluntary Passion. It is a season where we desire to say emphatically, “I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death and so, somehow, to attain the resurrection of the dead.” (Colossians 3:10-11).

I have attached a few articles that help give an overall view of the Great Fast and one prepared by a parishioner that gives a great perspective on what constitutes a true fast complete with some Patristic quotes on fasting. Also, to help prepare for fasting-friendly meals, we have compiled a great group of recipes from our own community and a breakdown on the fasting rules as quoted in the Lenten Triodion.

Fasting Recipes

Fasting Primer

Meaning of the Great Fast, by Met. Kallistos Ware

The Rules of Fasting

Also, here is an Archpastoral Message from Metropolitan Tikhon on the beginning of the fast:

Since Great Lent is a time of renewal and repentance the journey towards Pascha should involve coming to confession. This is an opportunity to take an honest, intentional look at one's life and confess where one falls short of the Gospel. "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God," says St. Paul, so confession is the opportunity to get back up and ask forgiveness for these sins. Confession is available Saturday nights after Great Vespers and during the first three nights of Holy Week or by appointment. Below is a great resource for preparing for confession from our former intern, Fr. Jeremy:

One should also increase one's attendance at Church services during Great Lent. Please plan on coming to Wednesday evening's Presanctified Liturgy each week as this is the Food for the journey where we partake of Christ. This week we have a full schedule as we enter the first week of the Great Fast (Clean Week) as well as Presanctified Liturgy every Wednesday of the Fast.

  • Monday, March 18 - Great Compline with the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete - 7 PM
  • Tuesday, March 19 - Great Compline with the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete - 7 PM
  • Wednesday, March 20 - Presanctified Liturgy followed by a lenten potluck
  • Thursday, March 21 - Great Compline with the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete - 7 PM
  • Sunday evening, March 24 - Annunciation Vespers @ Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, Winston-Salem - 6 PM

Lent should also be a time of more intentional Scripture reading and spiritual reading. Please refer to the lectionary on the many Orthodox liturgical calendars available or go to where one can read the daily readings. Please take some time to familiarize yourself with the treasure of the Lenten Triodion. You can purchase it here. This is the book that contains all of the hymns and services for Great Lent and Holy Week. There is a great online version of this that contains hymns for each day of Great Lent. It can be found here:

Great Lent is a time to increase one's alms-giving. It is here that we learn to give sacrificially as a way to remember that we are not the center of the universe and that we are called to pour out our lives to others in imitation of our Lord. We can give financially to ministries that help feed the poor such as Open Door Ministry in High Point where we used to prepare and serve a meal. This year we will be participating in the National Orthodox Baby Shower collecting items for pregnant mothers through Salem Pregnancy Center in Winston-Salem. We can donate to humanitarian relief agencies such as IOCC. We can donate to the alms fund at Holy Cross where funds are distributed for those in our community with needs. We can donate to ministries that evangelize and encourage the faithful. We can also volunteer our time to others by visiting the sick or helping people out that need assistance. Here are a few links:

As far as spiritual reading, here are a few books I would recommend. Choose one and try to make a concerted effort to turn off the tv, shut down the computer and redeem the time by reading some spiritual literature this year. This year we will be reading and discussing writings from St. Dorothea’s of Gaza during our Saturday afternoon lenten book study. The men's group will be reading "From Object to Icon" and discussing it at our April men's group meeting.

Also on the theme of shutting down the screens and electronics, here is an article suggesting limiting our time on social media during the fast as well:

Here are some online sources for spiritual reading during the Fast:

If anyone has any questions about your Lenten disciplines don't hesitate to get in touch with me. I pray that this year will be a rewarding and spirit-filled Lent. We struggle together as co-laborers during these days of "bright sadness" that bring us towards Christ's resurrection.

Forgive me a sinner.

In XC,

Fr. Christopher