A Moveable Festal Season is Coming upon Us!

Dearest Spiritual Ohana,

In our Orthodox Christian Faith, we have what are called “Immoveable Feasts” and “Moveable Feasts.”  When it comes to the Immoveable Feasts, the dates never change.  Some examples of the Immoveable Feasts are, for instance:  Our Lord’s Nativity on December 25, Epiphany on January 6, Entrance of the Lord into the Temple on February 2, Annunciation on March 25, Sts. Constantine and Helen on May 21, etc. 

When we speak of the Moveable Feasts, they are the Feasts whose dates vary from year to year.  These Moveable Feasts revolve around the “Feast of Feasts” which is “Pascha” (Easter), our Lord’s Resurrection, which is celebrated the 1st Sunday after the first full moon of Spring, which follows the vernal equinox when the length of day equal the length of night, but also must be celebrated after Jewish Passover.

There are two very important periods we are entering into that make up the Moveable Feasts, namely the “Triodion” and the “Pentecostarion” Periods.  Both the Triodion and the Pentecostarion, are in fact, Liturgical Books filled with the services for the Moveable Festal Season.  The Triodion Period begins this year on Sunday, February 17th, which is made up of 4 preparatory weeks which lead us into 5 weeks of Great Lent, and ends with Holy Week on Holy Saturday.  We embark upon a labor-intensive spiritual journey with the goal of entering into the fulfilling Joy of God’s Presence in our hearts and lives through the tools of abstinence, self-control, increased prayer, almsgiving and repentance. The Triodion Period beckons us to intensely struggle to refocus on our purpose of being, symbolic of our life and spiritual struggles on earth. The Pentecostarion Period begins on Pascha, Sunday, April 28th, this year, and ends the week after Pentecost on Sunday, June 23rd.  The Pentecostarion Period is a time of celebration and victory, symbolic of the life that awaits us in the Heavenly Kingdom.

So in last two week in February, and in the first two weeks in March this 2019 year, we enter into the Triodion Period and find ourselves fully immersed in the preparatory period which leads us into Great Lent.  These four weeks of preparation, prior to the start of Great Lent, help us to examine and discern where we are in our personal, spiritual lives and call us to action.  I challenge, as many of you as possible, to come to the services of especially Orthros to listen to the hymns and discern what these are personally saying to you! 

We have four Sundays in this preparatory period:  The Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, the Sunday of Prodigal Son, Judgment Sunday and Forgiveness Sunday.

I share with you hymns from each of these Sundays found in the Orthros.  I hope they speak  to  your hearts and your consciences.

[All the Hymns below are taken from:  Orthros courtesy of Narthex Press]

From the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee-  “O faithful, let us despise the boastful voice of the Pharisee.  Let us desire the contrite prayer of the Publican.  Let us not be exalted in our thoughts, but let us humble ourselves and, in contrition, cry out, ‘O God, be propitious to us in our sins.’” (Lauds)

From the Sunday of the Prodigal Son- “O Lord, I offer You the cry of the Prodigal, ‘I have sinned before Your sight, O Good One.  I have squandered the wealth of Your gifts.  But receive me in repentance and save me, O Savior.’” (Lauds)

From Judgment Sunday- “I perceive that hour and day when we shall all appear before the unbribable Judge, naked and condemned.  Then, the trumpet shall blast loudly, and the foundations of the earth shall shake and the dead shall rise from the grave.  All shall be of one stature, and every hidden secret shall stand revealed before You.  Those who have never repented shall beat their breast and lament and shall depart to the outer fire.  And the assembly of the righteous shall, in joy and in gladness, enter into the Heavenly chamber.” (Lauds)

From Forgiveness Sunday- “O Lord, wretch that I am, I disobeyed Your commandment, and have been stripped of Your glory and filled with shame.  Woe is me!  I have been cast out from the delight of Paradise.  Take pity on me, O merciful One, have mercy on me who have rightly been denied Your love, O compassionate One.”

I wish all of you a beautiful and rewarding spiritual journey as we enter the Triodion Period, experiencing the Fulfillment and Joy of God’s Presence in your lives!

With Love in Christ,

+Fr. Alexander

 

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