Before every great feast in the Orthodox Church, there is a preparation period of fasting. Naturally, before Holy Pascha, the Holy Resurrections, the Feast of Feasts, we have the greatest fast, the Great Fast (Lent).
Preparation for the Great Fast
An exclusive feature of the Orthodox Church is the period set aside to prepare us for the rigors of the Great Fast. Our spiritual forebears recognized that the Great Fast was a physical as well as a spiritual experience.
The Great Fast
The Great Fast Journey
The Great Fast is not simply a period in which Christians are forbidden to do certain things. Rather it is a journey, a challenge to alter our normal routine and embrace a heightened period of spiritual effort. The challenge of altering your lifestyle and embracing a life of fasting, prayer and almsgiving is difficult, but the Church gives us valuable assistance along the way with various themes and milestones which make the endeavor easier. Indeed, as the Fast continues, these milestones along the journey inspire us to aspire to greater holiness, to greater godliness in our daily life.
Great Fast Readings
The Church prescribes Old Testament for each day of the Great Fast from the three very important books of Genesis, Proverbs, and Isaiah. Originally, these books were read and studied by the catechumens (those who were preparing for baptism) each day in the Cathedral Church during the Great Fast.
Raising of Lazarus and Entrance Into Jerusalem
There are two important celebrations that serve as a transition between the Great Fast and Great Week: The Raising of Lazarus who was four days dead and the triumphant Entrance into Jerusalem resulting from that greatest of all of Jesus’ signs. It is a prefiguration of our Lord’s Resurrection.