Thursday, February 28, 2013
Orthodox Thursday: Meditations for Great Lent
For the past few years I have felt that the Orthodox Lent is much better than Catholic Lent. Maybe it is just Catholics in America, but with the minimal amount we American Catholics are required/asked to give up (no meat on Fridays and fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday), it seems paltry. Reading this book, Meditations for Great Lent, only reinforced my belief. Using the Triodion (the service book Orthodox use during Great Lent), the author (Vassilios Papavassiliou) walks his readers through the season of Great Lent by explaining the significance that the Gospel reading and/or hymn for each Sunday has in preparation for the great feast of Easter.
While reading through this book, I was amazed at how well the Orthodox Church calendar is laid out. Each Sunday in Great Lent builds upon the last Sunday. For example, in the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, one learns about genuine humility. The following Sunday, the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, we move from humility to repentance. The Sunday of the Last Judgment then makes us reflect on how we are living our life in relation to our neighbor. The greatest message I gained from this book though was on fasting. "There is more to Lent than fasting, and more to fasting than food." Fasting is a tool used during Lent, but we are called to fast from sin, not just food.
If you are Orthodox and want to understand Great Lent better, then this book is for you. If you are Catholic or a Protestant denomination and want to see how the Orthodox celebrate Lent or see a richer version of Lent, this book is for you. It is a short book with short chapters, but each one is full of wisdom. Therefore, I give this book 5 out 5 stars. However, I would like to add that no book, not even this one, can serve as a substitute for attending the services associated with Lent. So pick up this book and let it serve as your guide for this Lenten season of "bright sadness," which prepares us for the greatest feast of the year, Easter!