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.
2019 Daily Lenten Journey
It can be very frustrating at the height of Great Lent to continually be expected to sacrifice, whether it be fasting or charitable work for others. It isn’t that we don’t want to be fasting or serving others. It’s just that we look around, and it can seem like nobody else is doing what we are doing, especially during Great Lent. Can God really be expecting us to do something nobody else is willing to do?
As we approach the final Sunday of Great Lent when the Church commemorates the repentance of Saint Mary of Egypt, it is a good opportunity to talk about what happens when we allow sin to get out of control in our lives. Left unchecked, sin can overtake our soul to the point where we may not even recognize ourselves.
We have all heard about the righteousness of Abraham, and how God made His covenant with Abraham who would be the father of many nations. We have heard Saint Paul speak about the faith of Abraham that was accounted as righteous. But nowhere do we hear about Abraham being perfect. Is there a difference between perfection and righteousness?
Today we continue with the encouragement to have holy relationships with those around us, including our closest friends and family. Within our inner circle, it is much easier to allow our weaknesses to flourish. You’ve heard of the saying, “Familiarity breeds contempt,” right? We tend to be less thoughtful with family, thinking maybe that our family is stuck with us, so we let things slip. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
It is easy during Great Lent to focus on food. It is called the Great Fast, after all, but there is so much more to Great Lent than just food. Great Lent is as much about how we act out our Christian beliefs in our relationships with others. When it comes to fasting, that means not judging those who choose not to fast, or who don’t fast the way we choose to fast. What about other relationship challenges?
Yesterday I asked “Where is God Leading You?” Today I invite you to consider how far you’ve come since we began our journey four weeks ago. Since before Great Lent even began, you fasted from meat for an entire week. Then, you left all eggs and dairy products behind. If you are following the entire fast, you haven’t even had any oil or wine, except for weekends. As we finish the fourth week of Great Lent, “Are You Tired Yet?”
Daily we have been sharing a few thoughts in our attempt to inspire you in your Daily Lenten Journey. We began a month ago, and still have nearly a month to do until we reach our destination. Is Great Lent more than just seven weeks of prayer and fasting? Since we call this series our Daily Lenten Journey, have you wondered just where God is leading you on this journey?
Every now and again I recall my childhood when I would be sitting around the table at dinner trying to grab a cookie from a plate in the center of the table. My mother would slap my hand while correcting me, “Don’t grab!” From an early age my mother was teaching me that it was better to receive than to take. Taking is selfish.