Monday, March 7, 2011

Great Lent #02

Great Lent, or the Great Fast, is the most important Lent in our church. We, The Syrian Christians observe several fasts / Lents throughout the year. Nineveh Lent for 3 days, 25 Day Lent before Christmas, 8-Day Lent in September and so many as Non Mandatory and Mandatory. What is the purpose of every Lent?

Do we have any guidelines in Holy Book about Lent? We are not able to figure out the origin of Lent. When it was practiced first? Early on, Lent was a time of preparation for those about to be baptized at Easter. Or Lent is a time of soul-searching and repentance in preparation for the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection on Good Friday and Easter. Lent has been observed in different ways at different times, so it is hard to say when it started.

Moses took a lent of 40 Days and Night for the Tables of the Covenant. David besought God for the child; and David fasted and lay all night upon the earth. Ester before going to King, asked Mordecai to gather all the Jews that are present in Shushan, and fast for her, and neither eat nor drink three days, night or day: She and her maidens fasted in like manner. Nehemiah sat down and wept, and mourned certain days; and prayed before the God of heaven “we have dealt very corruptly against thee, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances, which thou commandedst thy servant Moses.” After ten days of fasting Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah appeared fairer, and they were fatter in flesh, than all the youths that did eat of the king's dainties.

Some took Lent to examine heart and confess sins. Some others observed it as time of spiritual cleansing and renewal. What ever reasons they observed the Lent, and in whatever ways they observed, God showered his blessings unto them finding their Lent was divine and holy.

Let us observe this Lent keeping 3 major points in mind.

1. Fasting - Give up something for God. Fasting is not a means to “earn” something from God, but rather a way to learn to curb your appetites and focus more completely on God.

2. Prayer and Meditation - Read over the Gospel accounts of our Christ, his suffering. Reflect on His suffering, and the tremendous love that it represents. Reflect on your own sin and what it cost Him. Take out some time for prayers of confession and repentance. Do some spiritual “house cleaning.”

3. Giving to the poor - Use the money that you save by not eating to help the poor.

Morning Prayer of Great Lent says "Those who are away from sins, those who observe lent wholeheartedly are blessed. They always stay near to our God. " Again it says "There are people who fast from food, but have a cruel heart. There are people who don't drink, but kill s his own brother."

Rise up from where you are now! Take this lent as the most rigorous one. Let he forgive us and bless us.

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