Great Lent:  An Opportunity to Restore our Wholeness

“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.”

-Hymn from the Triodion (Cheesefare Monday)

Dearest Spiritual Ohana,

By the time you receive this edition of the Shorelines, Great Lent will have already commenced!  As a matter of fact, we entered into Great Lent on Monday, February 27th, with “Clean Monday,” a drastic change in pace from our ordinary daily routine throughout the year...that is if we, actually each personally wholeheartedly, choose and resolve to take it on!

One tenth of the year is a rather substantial portion of the year, when you think about it!  And, actually, Great Lent is a little more than 10% of the whole year (40 days of 365 days = 10.958904109589% of the year).  I urge all of you to dive into this period, health permitting, to fast, not for abstaining merely from meat, poultry, dairy products, fish, etc., but to take this time to increase your prayer life (both public and private), to dedicate more time for your relationship with God, to be more charitable towards others and to take the time for repentance before God through the Sacrament (Holy Mystery) of Confession.  Confession is a renewal of our Baptism with a “baptism of tears.”  Confession is a “180 degree turn around” when our lives are headed in the wrong direction (amartia = missing the mark).

I am simply asking all of you to “seize the moment,” a great opportunity for all of us to be touched by God’s Presence in a very real way!  It is a time to experience the Love, Mercy and Glory of God.  If we treat Great Lent as any other time of the year, it will not be special or meaningful for us.  If we do not make this time of the year special, these days will simply remain “business/life as usual.”  Allow me to offer an analogy:  “If we leave our Christmas lights burning or the Christmas tree up everyday of the year, Christmas will not have that special sparkle and sentimental feeling inside when the actual celebration comes around.”  So if we do not participate in making our Great Lent a meaningful time of the year, when Pascha comes, we will not appreciate, fully, the Joyful Proclamations of “Christ is risen!  Truly He is risen!”

From personal experience, I typically and initially dread the anticipation of entering into of Great Lent, because I know that it comes with the radical movement from feasting to fasting from a lot of food I crave and desire.  But once I start to push forward, I realize how spiritually beneficial and fulfilling it proves to be!  As we journey through Lent, I soon find myself desiring that this blessed period in the year never ends.  It’s kind of like dreading to immerse myself into a swimming pool filled with water knowing that my body will be shocked by the initial chill.  But once I am submerged I begin to really enjoy the water.

Great Lent is not about giving up food and things we like, but opening up our hearts and souls for God to dwell within each of us and fulfill our lives with His Love and Mercy.  We are invited, especially in the blessed time of the year to be awakened and made aware, in our limited human capacities, of the Glory of God.  We receive a renewed purpose in life!  Life is not about food, fun and possessions, but about the True Joy we receive in growing closer to and living in  our Savior.

Let us remember, in the Most Blessed Season, to keep the fast not as only a rule but for an opportunity for us to open our hearts to experience the Lord’s Presence in our lives.  The Communion Hymn from the Pre-sanctified Liturgy expresses the essence for a most purposeful life:  “Taste and see how good the Lord is!”

Unless we are able to do this, we will miss the whole point of Great Lent.  The essence of this Great Fast is to hunger and thirst for God and not to focus on indulging ourselves in the activities that satisfy our momentary and fleeting happiness.

I wish all of you a Most Joyful and Fulfilling Great Lent!

With Love in Christ,

+Fr. Alexander

P.S.:  I would like to congratulate all of our FDF participants and directors for their outstanding performances over Presidents Day Weekend in San Diego, February 17th thru 19th!  I was truly overjoyed at watching all of you via “Live Stream” and seeing many of the Facebook postings!  Congratulations to our Wahine Aloha Choir for receiving “1st Place” in the Division II Choral Competition, and to Mrs. Dianna Graves for receiving the “Director’s Award!”  Bravo to All!!!

 

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