Great Lent Begins
Monday, 2/12/18, All Day Event
Lent: An Overview
In the Armenian Church, as well as in all orthodox churches, the great fast of Lent, which is a period of 40 days, begins on the Monday following the Sunday of Poon Paregentan, and not on Ash Wednesday as is the practice in the Roman Catholic Church, and ends on the Friday before Palm Sunday. This year, Great Lent begins on February 12, and will end on Friday, March 23.
The whole Lenten period, including Holy Week, is intended to be one of self-discipline. In this period, particularly, we should consider our shortcomings and make efforts to rectify them. It is a time set aside by the church for self-examination and self-appraisal, to strengthen our character and to renew our purpose in life. To achieve this goal, examination of conscience is the first necessary step, followed by a resolution to be more humble, more gentle, and to exercise self-control over our appetites, which is the main principle behind the purpose of Lent.
The practice of abstinence consists simply in refraining from certain foods. In the orthodox churches, it consists of abstaining from all kinds of meat, including fish, and all other animal foods, i.e., dairy products and eggs. We know that today not everyone can observe Lent in its strictest form. We can abstain from certain pleasures, amusements, shows, festive occasions, etc. We can at least devote more time to private prayer, reading scripture, and church attendance.
In the Armenian Church, all Sundays of Lent have meaningful names that remind us of certain basic Christian truths upon which we should meditate during that Sunday and the following week.
- Sunday of the Expulsion (February 18) recalls the loss of that original joy and happiness through pride and mistrust. Sin, that which distracts us from undivided devotion to God, deprives us of Paradise and knowing God fully.
- The Sunday of the Prodigal Son (February 25) tells the story of a lost son who returns to his father and family home in sorrow and penitence. How great is the Father's love and forgiveness that provides a way back into Paradise and communion with Him!
- The Sunday of the Steward (March 4) reminds us that repentance is always possible, and one must start somewhere. Because of the steward's regret, he became wiser and turned toward righteousness.
- The Sunday of the Judge (March 11) teaches us true dependence on God. God in His infinite love knows our needs and answers them in the proper time. In the meantime, we are called to trust God, even in our suffering.
- The Sunday of Advent (March 18) is dedicated to the mystery of the second Coming of Christ, the culmination and fulfillment of all that happened on earth with the first coming of Christ. It points us toward a time when He will come again as the righteous Judge and Savior, of which we are in need.
During Lent . . .
- We do not receive or pass the Voghchooyn (Kiss of Peace).
- Holy Communion is not administered. Those in need of Holy Communion may see the Celebrant following the Badarak.
- Mahs is distributed to the faithful regularly.
- We do not approach the Celebrant at the conclusion of the Divine Liturgy to kiss the Gospel.