Author Topic: A question on Great Lent  (Read 206 times)

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Offline andrewlya

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A question on Great Lent
« on: February 15, 2015, 03:33:28 PM »
Hi All,

Me and my wife are going to fast for the Great Lent. Does the Great Lent start on the 23rd of February and finishes on the 12th of April? If so, then it is about a 48 day fast. I thought the Great Lent is meant to be a 40 day fast?

Thank you for clarifying.

Gos bless.
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Offline genesisone

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Re: A question on Great Lent
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2015, 03:59:51 PM »
You are right that the first day of Great Lent is Monday, February 23 (as calculated by the Revised [New] Julian Calendar, which happens to coincide for the next few centuries with the Gregorian Calendar). However, the fortieth day is Friday, April 3. We count Sundays, but not Holy Week, for which we fast of course as well. You have to remember that Great Lent does not mean "this is when we fast". It is a liturgical period - note that many services are done quite differently during those forty days. Holy Week services are separate. It took me a few years to figure this out, too. You're not alone.

Offline andrewlya

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Re: A question on Great Lent
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2015, 05:55:33 PM »
You are right that the first day of Great Lent is Monday, February 23 (as calculated by the Revised [New] Julian Calendar, which happens to coincide for the next few centuries with the Gregorian Calendar). However, the fortieth day is Friday, April 3. We count Sundays, but not Holy Week, for which we fast of course as well. You have to remember that Great Lent does not mean "this is when we fast". It is a liturgical period - note that many services are done quite differently during those forty days. Holy Week services are separate. It took me a few years to figure this out, too. You're not alone.
Just to get it right-the Great Lent is over 40 days period but the fast is 40 days?
I believe in one God the Father and His Son the Messiah, the Savior of all people.

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Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: A question on Great Lent
« Reply #3 on: February 15, 2015, 06:13:49 PM »
No.  Great Lent is a forty day period beginning (this year) on 23 Feb 2015 and ending 3 Apr 2015.  "Holy Week" is the period from the Monday before Pascha to Holy Saturday (6-11 Apr 2015).  Both periods are distinct and are fasting periods, but are often lumped together and called "Great Lent" as a sort of informal shorthand.
« Last Edit: February 15, 2015, 06:15:21 PM by Mor Ephrem »
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Offline andrewlya

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Re: A question on Great Lent
« Reply #4 on: February 15, 2015, 06:17:41 PM »
No.  Great Lent is a forty day period beginning (this year) on 23 Feb 2015 and ending 3 Apr 2015.  "Holy Week" is the period from the Monday before Pascha to Holy Saturday (6-11 Apr 2015).  Both periods are distinct and are fasting periods, but are often lumped together and called "Great Lent" as a sort of informal shorthand.
Now it makes sense,cheers Mor!
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Offline Jonathan Gress

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Re: A question on Great Lent
« Reply #5 on: February 15, 2015, 06:35:34 PM »
No.  Great Lent is a forty day period beginning (this year) on 23 Feb 2015 and ending 3 Apr 2015.  "Holy Week" is the period from the Monday before Pascha to Holy Saturday (6-11 Apr 2015).  Both periods are distinct and are fasting periods, but are often lumped together and called "Great Lent" as a sort of informal shorthand.
Now it makes sense,cheers Mor!

And in between is what I like to call the "limbo" fast of Lazarus Saturday and Palm Sunday, which are technically part of neither Great Lent nor Holy Week, but on which we maintain abstinence from meat, cheese and eggs. Lazarus Saturday was traditionally the day for baptizing catechumens, at least according to Met Kallistos Ware's introduction to his edition of the Triodion, so Lent was originally intended to be the preparation period for the catechumens, but then the faithful took it as an opportunity to fast in solidarity as a kind of renewal of their baptismal promises. The fast of Holy Week is older, apparently. After the organized catechumenate lapsed, once the vast majority of Orthodox became cradle Orthodox, Great Lent kind of fused with Holy Week into the mega-preparation for Pascha that it is today, but if you study the liturgical texts of the Triodion carefully you can still see the distinction between the Lenten services and the Holy Week services, and the different purposes they serve.

Offline LBK

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Re: A question on Great Lent
« Reply #6 on: February 15, 2015, 07:00:29 PM »
Quote
Lazarus Saturday was traditionally the day for baptizing catechumens, at least according to Met Kallistos Ware's introduction to his edition of the Triodion,

Baptisms were also historically carried out on Holy Saturday. The Trisagion during this liturgy is replaced with As many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. Alleluia..
« Last Edit: February 15, 2015, 07:00:48 PM by LBK »
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Offline Jonathan Gress

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Re: A question on Great Lent
« Reply #7 on: February 15, 2015, 07:03:41 PM »
Quote
Lazarus Saturday was traditionally the day for baptizing catechumens, at least according to Met Kallistos Ware's introduction to his edition of the Triodion,

Baptisms were also historically carried out on Holy Saturday. The Trisagion during this liturgy is replaced with As many of you as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ. Alleluia..

Good point; also for Theophany and some other important feasts, I think (Pentecost?).

In the last two weeks of Lent the Litany for "those about to be illumined" is added to (or replaces?) the litany of catechumens in the Liturgy, is this not so?

Offline Mor Ephrem

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Re: A question on Great Lent
« Reply #8 on: February 15, 2015, 07:06:34 PM »
Lazarus Saturday was traditionally the day for baptizing catechumens, at least according to Met Kallistos Ware's introduction to his edition of the Triodion, so Lent was originally intended to be the preparation period for the catechumens, but then the faithful took it as an opportunity to fast in solidarity as a kind of renewal of their baptismal promises. The fast of Holy Week is older, apparently.

There is good reason to believe that what we regard as Great Lent is really a few different regional traditions fused into one universal tradition (e.g., post-Epiphany fasting in Egypt, three week pre-baptismal fasting for catechumens in other places, etc.).  This can help explain, for example, why Lazarus Saturday and Holy Saturday are both "baptismal days", though only a week apart (and they are not the only "baptismal days" in the ecclesiastical year).   

The fast of Holy Week is properly the preparation for Pascha, but now Great Lent serves for this as well, as you said. 
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Offline Carl Kraeff (Second Chance)

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Re: A question on Great Lent
« Reply #9 on: February 15, 2015, 11:39:55 PM »
In addition, we do have Meatfare Sunday, after which we have another seven days of fasting. Indeed, if we think of Great Lent as a journey to Pascha, I would think that this journey started with the Sunday of the Publican--regardless of fasting practices..

Offline DeniseDenise

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Re: A question on Great Lent
« Reply #10 on: February 16, 2015, 12:28:24 AM »
In addition, we do have Meatfare Sunday, after which we have another seven days of fasting. Indeed, if we think of Great Lent as a journey to Pascha, I would think that this journey started with the Sunday of the Publican--regardless of fasting practices..

Well if you think eggy cheesy goodness is fasting.  ;)

I think of cheesefare week as the opening band at the concert. Not quite the main event but also not 'no music'

Offline Jonathan Gress

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Re: A question on Great Lent
« Reply #11 on: February 16, 2015, 08:26:52 AM »
In addition, we do have Meatfare Sunday, after which we have another seven days of fasting. Indeed, if we think of Great Lent as a journey to Pascha, I would think that this journey started with the Sunday of the Publican--regardless of fasting practices..

Well if you think eggy cheesy goodness is fasting.  ;)

I think of cheesefare week as the opening band at the concert. Not quite the main event but also not 'no music'

The thing is it's not exactly a regular progression from laxity to severity. The Triodion starts with the all-you-can eat buffet of Publican and Pharisee week, then you go to the normal week of Meatfare, then you have the almost-all-you-can-eat-but-don't-touch-the-barbecue of Cheesefare, then the 5-day cleansing detox fast of Clean Week, and then you settle back on the ordinary severity of Lent without the actual starvation. It's not a straight downward slope but more a succession of downward (upward?) trending hills and valleys.