Join us every Wednesday during Lent for a soup supper at 6:30 followed by Vespers at 7:00.
The forty-day period of Lent developed in the early church as a way of preparing catechumens for their baptism at the Easter vigil. The forty days of this season were associated with Jesus’ forty days of temptation in the desert prior to His baptism (Matthew 4) and to the forty years the children of Israel spend in the wilderness (Numbers 14:34). In AD 329 Bishop Athanasius, the father of orthodox Christianity, asked his congregation to keep a fast of forty days as a way of renewing their own baptism and life of penitence. In the fifth century Leo the Great explained that “Lent was appointed to prepare souls for a fruitful commemoration of of the mystery of Easter, as a time of inner purification and sanctification, of repentance for sins past, of breaking off sinful habits, of the exercise of virtues, especially almsgiving, reconciliation and the saying aside of enmity and hatred.”
Ash Wednesday, which falls on February 14th this year, begins our observance of Lent, with the placing of ashes on the forehead a sign of penitence and human mortality. During Lent we “put our alleluias away” and omit the Gloria in Excelsis in the Divine Service, and also remove altar flowers and banners to remind us of the season. It is a time for the discipline of learning and growing in faith, for repentance and for prayer, and yes even for fasting to practice self-control and to heighten oneâs awareness of Christ. The practice of “giving something up” for Lent, like sweets or coffee, is entirely a matter of Christian freedom, but we dare not think we earn God’s favour by subtracting chocolate for forty days. So this Lenten season also consider adding instead of subtracting – adding the midweek service, adding a bible study, adding a time of family devotion. The days and weeks of Lent call us to keep our focus on Christ. So whether you are adding or subtracting (or both!), may your Lenten practices draw you ever closer to Him who has redeemed you with His precious blood.