A Spiritual Journey begins! Are you ready for it?
“The gateway to divine repentance has been opened: let us enter eagerly, purified in our bodies and observing abstinence from food and passions, as obedient servants of Christ who has called the world into the heavenly Kingdom. Let us offer to the King of all a tenth part of the whole year, that we may look with love upon His Resurrection.”
~Sessional hymn, Matins, Cheesefare Monday
Dearest Spiritual Ohana,
In the month of February, this blessed year, we enter into the “Moveable Festal Season.” The Orthodox Church has both the Moveable and the Immoveable Festal Seasons in the Liturgical Year. The immoveable part of the year, which comprises the majority part of any given year, is made up of festal dates that simply do not change. These include many of the Lord’s Feasts, the Theotokos’ Feasts and Feast Days of the Saints, such as: The Lord’s Nativity, Circumcision, Presentation into the Temple and Transfiguration. For the Theotokos, Her Nativity, Presentation into the Temple, Her Annunciation, and Her Dormition. For the Saints, most all of them do not move their date of commemoration, such as St. Nicholas on December 6th, St. Demetrios on October 26th, St. Katherine on November 25th, etc.
The Moveable Festal Season is made up of approximately 1/10 of the entire year. It includes the following: (1) 4 preparatory Sundays leading up to and before Great Lent, (2) Great Lent, (3)Holy Week, (4) Pascha, (5) the Lord’s Ascension, (6) Holy Pentecost, ending with (7) the Sunday of All Saints.
The “Moveable Festal Season” of services, prayers and readings is contained in two liturgical books, the “Triodion” and the “Pentecostarion.”
Beginning with Great Vespers on Saturday, February 8th, we open the service book of the “Triodion.” The hymnography, the services and the readings in the Triodion take us on a journey to and through Great Lent and Holy Week, ending on Holy Saturday. The journey is not meant to be a ritualistic one of going through services devoid of meaning and purpose, but one that is meant to take us on a meaningful spiritual journey to find our true selves as children of God and rediscover/discover a life of fulfillment in the Love, Mercy and Glory of Christ. This journey is transformative and is meant be a road/pathway to return to our true purpose in life which is to recognize that we are made in the “image and likeness” of God and that we are totally dependent on Him and that He is the fulfillment of our deepest desire and longing which is implanted within each and every living human being. This journey beckons us to take on prayer, fasting, repentance, almsgiving, self-emptying, humility, forgiveness as tools to open up our hearts for the Lord to enter them.
This journey, which we are about to embark on, is meant to be a joyous experience, not a sad and somber one. It opens the doors of our hearts for the Lord to be a real and innate part of our lives. There is no greater joy than this! We have the free will and ability to choose to build a relationship with Him, as the Lord never imposes or forces us to do so.
I recommend an outstanding, profound and helpful book to bring us into the right spirit of and take the steps necessary into the period we are about to enter. The book, The Lenten Spring, by Fr. Thomas Hopko, is written in such a simple, straight-forward manner. It gives us the courage, inspiration and desire to take the journey into the Moveable Season of the Triodion. This book really helps us to live through all the moments before and into Great Lent and Holy Week and enter into a real, transformative and meaningful relationship with our Lord. So when we reach the celebration of Pascha/the Lord’s Ressurection, opening up the service book of the “Pentecostarion,” we will truly rejoice in the Lord’s Love, Mercy, Glory and the Victory He gave to us through His Victory over sin and especially Death.
Enjoy the Season!
With Love in Christ,