I’m taking a break, sort of, from Great Lent to talk about the increased situation in regard to Coronavirus (COVID19). I maintain that Holy Communion is safe and faithful have no need to fear any illness being transmitted through Holy Communion. Maybe a bit of compassion and love will serve to draw others closer to Christ rather than away from Him.
Yesterday I wrote about starting over after we sin. Adam and Eve started over after they were removed from the Garden. Cain started over after killing his brother. We are encouraged to start over when we sin, not to pretend our sin had no effect, but to recall that God loves us and continues to give us a new chance.
Today is week 2, day 2, and you might be wondering by now, if not sooner, and definitely later, why are you doing this whole Great Lenten Journey? Is it worth the struggle? Shouldn’t you be building your immune system for the COVID19 virus? As we continue our self-reflection on the Scripture readings this week, take a moment and read today’s reading from Proverbs. What encouragement does it offer to you for your Great Lenten Journey?
On the Sunday of Orthodoxy, the Church reinforces the truth of God’s incarnation in the person of Jesus Christ. We proclaim this truth, though we were not ourselves present. We do so, because someone sometime painted an icon of Him. The defense of Holy Icons isn’t about art, but about the truth of God’s incarnation. Jesus didn’t just speak to us from heaven. He became one of us to save us. The Disciples had been preparing for God’s appearance their entire life, so when He appeared, they were ready for Him.
One of the beauties of the Orthodox Christian Way of Life is flow of time through seasons. Right now we are in the holy season known as Great Lent, but even within Great Lent, there are visible changes, like the light and dark I wrote about last week in “How Does it Feel?” where I featured the color, light and fasting changes in the Church each week.
Today is the Sunday of Orthodoxy, the first Sunday of Great Lent, the day on which the Church commemorates the restoration of Holy Icons after centuries of battle with iconoclasts. Today is the day we declare the Orthodox Christianity is the “faith which has established the universe” as we process with our Holy Icons. Why is this so important?
A Robust Faith
Today the Church commemorates a miracle of robust faith nearly 1700 years ago. It was the first week of Great Lent, and the faithful were fasting, as was their tradition. In an attempt to kill the faithful Christians, the pagans poisoned all the food sources, but God rescued them through the miracle of the Kollyva and Saint Theodore. Through a vision, Saint Theodore learned of the pagan plot and told the people to make kollyva rather than purchase food from the market. Thus, they were saved from the pagans.
Last night, I celebrate one of my favorite services, which contains one of my favorite prayers. At the end of the Presanctified Liturgy is a prayer that puts our entire Great Lenten Journey into perspective. It assists us not only to keep up the effort, but even to double down. I help us understand the value of Great Lent.
Standing on the Soleas, facing the Holy of Holies, the priest prays: