We open the Service Book of the Lenten Triodion
My Dearest Spiritual Ohana,
As Orthodox Christians, we move into a special period of the year, of Moveable Feasts, centered around the celebration of Pascha (Easter). We open a particular service book called “The Lenten Triodion” on Sunday, February 21st, this year. Every year’s set time of opening of this book varies according to the moon phases which are centered around the Vernal Equinox of Spring, when the duration of day and night are equal. Within this book are a wealth of services, hymns and prayers, etc. which are inclusive of a three week preparation before Great Lent, including four Sundays. Then follows a total of six weeks and five Sundays which make up Great Lent. Then we conclude with our journey through Holy Week, closing the book late night on Great and Holy Saturday. All these weeks prepare us with specific themes, each and every week, which help ready us to rejoice in body and soul in our Lord’s Glorious Resurrection, the Great Paschal Celebration.
Please do not think of the Triodion as a book or period filled with mere rituals, but rather as a “road map” to guide us on a personal and spiritual journey with the purpose of focusing our minds hearts and souls on returning to the bosom of our Loving God with the helpful tools of increased prayer, fasting and repentance.
I share with you one of the many beautiful hymns that captures the heart and spirit of the period we enter: “Open to me the gates of repentance, O Giver of Life, for early in the morning my spirit hastens to Your holy temple, bringing the temple of my body all defiled. But as one compassionate, cleanse me, I pray, by Your loving-kindness and mercy.”
I invite and challenge, as many of you as possible, to experience the beauty and the spiritual benefits conveyed through the hymnography in the service of Orthros especially during this period of the Triodion. I guarantee that you will not regret this opportunity as long as you come, prayerfully, focusing on what is being expressed through the many hymns.
In the month of February, we will go through two Sundays in the Triodion. On Sunday, February 21st, we have before us the theme of the “Publican and the Pharisee.” This theme teaches us true humility in comparing ourselves to the Glory of God, rather than comparing ourselves with other human beings. We are taught not to look to the left and right in judging anyone at any time through the example of the Publican/Tax Collector. We are also taught not to boast about ourselves and our virtues and not judge others through our pride and self-righteousness as did the Pharisee. On Sunday, February 28th, we have the most beloved our Lord’s Parables, the Parable of the Prodigal Son, which expresses God’s boundless Love and Mercy for us who are truly undeserving (I speak for myself first and foremost) of these limitless attributes of God.
Liturgically, in February, let us look forward to the blessed, moveable period of the opening of the Triodion, worshipping and growing together spiritually as an “Ohana.” In other aspects of our life as a parish, I extend my best wishes to our Nisiotes Dancers and Aloha Youth Choir as they will attend, participate and compete at FDF in Anaheim, California over the Presidents’ Day Weekend. I pray that our young people most especially enjoy connecting with other young people and fellowshipping with them, more so and over winning the highest medals and achievements. I also am excited and look forward to our “Moms and the Orthodox Family” Ministry getting underway, giving an opportunity for our Moms and Grandmothers to get together and fellowship in discussing and advising one another in matters of their families and Faith. I am also pleased to announce that Dr. Robert Arakaki will offer us a Special Four Week Series for Adult Religious Education which will lead us into Great Lent.
I wish all of you a blessed month of February.
Polycarp the Holy Martyr & Bishop of Smyrna; Proterios, Archbishop of Alexandria; Gorgonia the Righteous, sister of Gregory the Theologian; Damian the New Martyr of Mount Athos; Boswell, Abbot of Melrose Abbey