February 27 — March 2
The first week of Great Lent is a very special time of renewal and rededication of our lives to God. It is the most perfect and natural time for a retreat – as individuals and as a community. It is not meant to be a “holy burden” imposed on our already-too-busy schedules. On the contrary, it can be a real gift from God. Reaping the fruits of this gift, however, will require considerable effort on our part. This effort is the seizing of a wonderful spiritual opportunity which goes far beyond merely fulfilling a “religious obligation.” If you have the slightest doubt about this, please ask a friend who has but once tasted the fruits of this blessed week.
What can I do during this special week?
If at all possible, attend matins at daybreak – at the very least on the first day. At this service you can especially experience the “bright sadness” which we hear and read about in so many lenten sermons and writings. If you are at home during the daytime, there will be services also scheduled at mid-day. In the evenings, make an effort at least once or twice to attend Great Compline with the Canon of St. Andrew of Crete, which sets the whole tone of our lenten effort. Finally, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts with the reception of Holy Communion and the blessing of kutia (boiled wheat) is the climax of the weekday services.
Remember, services this week are held many times during the morning, daytime and evening. Not everyone can attend all of them, but most of us can attend some of them.
N.B. The “lenten tone” of worship is used only at the weekday services.
If we come only on Saturday or Sunday or even the final days of Holy Week, we will miss that entire experience.