Title: 1st Day of the Great Lent
Description: PRAYER FOR THE BEGINNING OF LENT
0 Lord Jesus Christ, my God, hope of all bounds of the earth, and of those far away at sea, You have established these holy days of fasting by Your law and the prophets, as a way of my mortification and repentance.
In the fullness of time, You manifested Yourself in the flesh on this earth, and by Your fast of forty days and nights, You sanctified the practice of fasting and commanded me to follow Your example.
As a merciful and gracious God, enable me to begin these holy days of Great Fast with perfect repentance, with humility rather than hypocrisy, with diligent prayer, with hunger and thirst, with frequent prostrations, and with a contrite heart. Enable me also to complete this time of the Great Fast, without fault and with a pure conscience, keeping my faith intact and achieving victory over sin.
Send me an angel of peace to watch over my life to protect me from all snares of my enemies, and to assist me in the performance of good deeds. Strengthen me by Your power an that I may accomplish the ascetic works of the Great Fast. Then, with my passion bridled and my soul and body cleansed, I will be worthy to partake, without condemnation, of Your Most Pure Body and Your Most Precious and Life-giving Blood.
For You are the merciful and gracious lover of mankind Who has come to save all, and to You I render glory, together with Your Eternal Father, and Your All Holy, Good, and Life-Giving Spirit, now and ever, and forever. Amen
OUR LENTEN JOURNEY TO PASCHA
The Great Fast (as Lent is called in the Ukrainian Catholic Church) is the time when we prepare to celebrate Pascha (Easter), the great mystery of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. The Church teaches us that there are four chief ways of getting ready for this most important of feasts• fasting, prayer, alms-giving (charity) and study.
Fasting is both real and symbolic. What is it that maintains our physical life? Food or eating. Somehow to make us aware that our life is more than physical, the Church asks us to change the ordinary way in which we live and especially to change the way we eat.
We learn from the book of Genesis that man is made in the image and likeness of God. Adam and Eve were placed in the garden of paradise — a world without work, without sadness, without death (i.e. without sin). But man chose to disobey God and to eat the forbidden fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Sin came into the world and paradise was lost because of their eating. Eating, therefore, can be a symbol or sign of becoming evil. We, too, have become capable of evil and have allowed evil to come into our lives. We live in a world in which there is work, sorrow and death. But man has always wanted to restore paradise. And it is during Lent that we prepare that journey back from man’s first exile — the exile of Adam and Eve from paradise. We show by our fasting that we are not like Adam and Eve. And so on Easter we will recover paradise and find there the Tree of Life, which is the Cross of Christ, and eat the fruit of immortality, the Divine Body and Blood of Christ.
THE ART OF FASTING
Lent begins on Monday, the day after Cheese Fare Sunday and lasts until Palm Sunday. Of course all Lenten regulations apply during Great and Holy Week.
THE GREAT FAST
During the Great Fast in days gone by (but not that very long ago) our ancestors did not eat meat or meat products, dairy products, olive oil and wine or liquor. They ate fish, fruit and vegetables and vegetable products. This is how they fasted. This fast is the great ideal set for us by all the Eastern Churches. This fast is NOT obligatory under pain of sin, but it is voluntary and recommended for those who are strong in body and in spirit.
Today we are obliged during the Great Fast (Lent) to:
1. Abstain from meat and dairy products on the first day of Lent and on Great and Holy Friday (Good Friday).
2. Abstain from meat on all Fridays of the Great Fast (Lent) and Holy Saturday.
3. It is advisable even today to adopt some form of the ancient strict manner of fasting. For example: to keep the strict fast the first week of Lent, the fourth week of Lent and during Holy Week. We never fast on Sundays, since every Sunday (even during Lent) we commemorate the Resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
The journey of Lent, however, is not just about giving up food, sweets, desserts, forms of entertainment, etc. The real work of Lent is an interior one. We are to look at our lives and see which areas, what attitudes, what actions, decisions, are preventing us from truly following Christ. We then begin to fast from those actions. This is the fast that Christ wants — to purify our lives, to refocus upon Him, to establish new patterns, new habits in our lives which promote charity — love of neighbor.