Today is the Fifth Friday of Great Lent, a day on which the Church commemorate the Akathyst Hymn to the Theotokos. The hymn has a historical and spiritual significance for Orthodox Christians. It recalls a time when the Church was under persecution, but never gave up hope. With faith in God, the Church called upon His Mother for protection. The Akathyst Hymn was offered by the people as adoration to the Theotokos in hopes that God would save His people from their enemies. What does this have to do with Great Lent?
Just as our ancestors were at war with enemies trying to defeat them, we are at war with an enemy that will stop at nothing in his attempt to defeat us. Our enemy is not limited to human frailty, but only by our willingness to remain in communion with God. Our ancestors processed around the walls of their city proclaiming faith in God. Eventually they were saved. Great Lent is our chance to surround our hearts proclaiming our faith in God. We will be saved as our ancestors were saved.
A beautiful reality to being Orthodox is the connection of history and faith. We do not pretend the Church is anything beyond a living relationship between God and His people. Sometimes we struggle. Other times we celebrate. Great Lent recalls our struggle, and is a struggle. Pascha recalls God’s victory and our celebration. You can’t have victory without struggle. We can’t have Pascha without Great Lent.