Priest Serafim Gan
"LET US FAST WITH AN ACCEPTABLE FAST"
In these bright and great days of holy Great Lent, the Church of Christ calls upon us to salvific self-denial, of which the Moldavian elder, the Holy Schema-Archimandrite Paisius Velichkovsky wrote: -ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â³If you restrain your stomach, you enter heaven, for restraint is the slaying of sin, the departure from passions, the beginning of spiritual life and the guarantor of eternal blessings.-ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âº
Lofty and great is this Christian work! This is why the Holy Church, recognizing the saving potential of this podvig [labor-in-faith] wisely established the 40-day fast before Passion Week and the celebration of the Resurrection of Christ, so that the children of the Church would, first of all, follow the example of the Savior, who fasted for 40 days, and secondly, so that we properly greet the final events of the salvific podvig of the Lord, and communing of the Flesh and Blood of the Resurrected Christ with worthiness on the very night of the -ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â³vanquishing of death and destruction of hell-ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âº (from the Paschal canon). Many of us living in the world are constantly bothered by worldly cares, and have no way of -ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â³laying aside our cares-ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âº and attending all the services the first week of Great Lent. For this reason, it was decided to offer the readers of our website something about the life during the first week of Lent of the residents of our "Lavra Abroad," as the late Metropolitan Anastassy (Gribanovsky, +1965) liked to call Holy Trinity Monastery in Jordanville, NY.
On Forgiveness Sunday evening, the monks and seminarians gather in Holy Trinity Cathedral for small compline with the rite of forgiveness. After reading the prayers before sleep, His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus gives a sermon, in which he asks forgiveness of the monastic brethren and reminds the worshipers of the need to forgive those "that hate and wrong us" for the attainment of the Kingdom of Heaven. Then, the rite of forgiveness with the joyful singing of the Paschal sticheron follows. After asking every person in turn for forgiveness, each returns to his cell with a pure heart and peaceful spirit to await the beginning of the "sorrowful days of Great Lent."
The following morning, on Clean Monday, midnight office begins at 5:30 am, followed by Great Lenten matins, which contains several special characteristics. After the great litany, "alleluia" is sung instead of "Lord God," and then the trinitarian hymns of the tone. Instead of two cathismas, three are read, and at the end of each, edifying teachings of Saint Efrem of Syria. Then, the officiating clergyman reads the prayer -ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â³Save, O God, Thy people,-ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âº after which the canon of the saint of the day with the so-called triodion of the Lenten Triodion and the Old Testament songs from the end of the Psalter are solemnly sung. After the 3rd song, His Eminence reads the chronicles from Lavsaik, and after the 6th, the life of the saint of the day from the Prologue. After the first hour, the monks and seminarians, along with pilgrims, venerate the icons and the relics of saints in the upper Trinity Cathedral and in the lower Chapel of St. Job, where a reliquary with the relics of the Kiev-Pechersk saints is kept, along with a venerated copy of the Pochaev Icon of the Mother of God, and other holy items. After a brief respite, hours are read with the cathismas and teachings from The Ladder of St. John of the Ladder, the great teacher of monastics and the abbot of the monastery of Mount Sinai. At the end, vespers for the next day begins. All the above services include the reading of prayers of St. Efrem of Syria which express a fervent striving of man for repentance and good works. After vespers, a litany is performed for all -ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â³our forefathers, fathers and brethren.-ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âº Then, the brethren shares a meal, from of oil, during which the teachings of St. Feofan, the Recluse of Vysha, From Monday to Thursday, great compline is served with the reading of the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete. After evening prayers, everyone venerates the holy icons and receives the His Eminence the Superior’s blessing.
On Wednesday and Friday, the liturgy of pre-sanctified Gifts in is performed in the hierarchal rite. At the end of Liturgy, during Clean Week, the canon to Great Martyr Theodore the Tyro is read, followed by the blessing of the kolivo [soft-shelled wheat or barley, sweetened with sugar, honey, raisins or dried fruit] in memory of the great miracle of St. Theodore. In the evening, great compline is served with the canons for preparation for Communion, the akathist to the Mother of God and the evening prayers, during which all the residents, seminarians and pilgrims make confession. In the morning of Theodore Saturday, midnight office begins at 5 am; after matins, the canon for Divine Communion is sung by two kliroses. After a brief rest, hours begin, followed by liturgy, when everyone partakes of the Holy Mysteries.
All-night vigil on the eve of the Triumph of Orthodoxy begins at 7 pm. It is interesting to note that before the establishment of this holiday in the year 842, the first Sunday of Great Lent was dedicated to the Holy Prophets of God, as is evidenced by the idiomelon of the day in the 6th tone on the praises on this holiday: -ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â³In time of abstinence Moses received the Law and drew the people [to it]; Elijah, while fasting, closed up the skies; and through temperance did the three children of Abraham vanquish the iniquitous tyrant...-ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âº His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus officiates at the hierarchal liturgy along with a host of monastic clergymen, teachers of the seminary and guests in the priestly rank. After Liturgy, the -ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â³prayer for the conversion of those in error-ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âº is sung, with the rite of Orthodoxy. After the anathemization of heretics who do not accept the teachings and laws of the Holy Church, the protodeacon intones -ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â³Eternal Memory-ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âº for all the defenders of Orthodoxy, then -ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â³Many Years-ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âº to His Eminence Metropolitan Laurus and all who observe the Faith of Christ.
The following day, the brethren and students return to their obediences and studies. Despite the long, rule-bound services with many prostrations, and the strict fast with -ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â³dry food-ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âº [without oil], the residents, as the Apostle said, -ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â³in faltering, they falter not.-ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âº
In conclusion, I would like to recall the words of the famous Hieromonk Arsenii, who labored on Mount Athos, in -ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â³Rusika-ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âº in the 19th century: -ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â³The victory over the flesh is glorious and ever-wondrous; such a one partakes not of earthly, but of heavenly food; he is as one who leaves a stench-filled place and enters a splendid garden.-ÃƒÆ’Ã‚Âº
May God grant all of us to spend this time in pleasing Him and become worthy of the victorious entry into this splendid garden of restraint, praising the brightest resurrection of the Mankind-loving God!
Priest Serafim Gan, Associate Editor