Ancient Customs

Great Lent

One of the important aspects of Great Lent is to remember that our Orthodox Christian way of life is ancient and inspired by God. With an ever-increasing number of Christian “denominations” with traditions and customs established as recently as last month. The same cannot be said about Great Lent in the Orthodox Church.

As we hear in today’s reading from Hebrews below, the tradition of entering into the Church to worship God and to make offerings to Him, were first established in the Old Testament. To this day, the Priest enters into the Holy of Holies (we still call it that too) to celebrate Holy Communion and pray for the people. Even the customs of Great Lent and (as we will see in a couple weeks) Holy Week are as ancient as the early Church, but we’ll wait until then to discuss those elements.

For now, let’s take advantage of the next week, our LAST WEEK for Great Lent. Stay focused on prayer, fasting, taking care of the poor, Holy Communion. Now would be a good time to make an appointment for Holy Confession too.

BRETHREN, the first covenant had regulations for worship and an earthly sanctuary. For a tent was prepared, the outer one, in which were the lampstand and the table and the bread of the Presence; it is called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain stood a tent called the Holy of Holies, having the golden altar of incense and the ark of the covenant covered on all sides with gold, which contained a golden urn holding the manna, and Aaron's rod that budded, and the tables of the covenant; above it were the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat. Of these things we cannot now speak in detail. These preparations having thus been made, the priests go continually into the outer tent, performing their ritual duties; but into the second only the high priest goes, and he but once a year, and not without taking blood which he offers for himself and for the errors of the people. – Hebrews 9.1-7

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