Great Lent: A Lenten Reflection

Written By: on Jun 21st, 2009 and filed under Columns.


Verily, Adam for eating was driven from Paradise. Wherefore, he sat opposite thereto, wailing and mourning in a pitiful voice, saying, Woe is me; what hath befallen me, wretched man? I transgressed one commandment of my Lord and was denied all kinds of good things. Wherefore, O most holy paradise, which for me was planted, and for the sake of Eve was closed, implore him who made thee, that I may contemplate the flowers of thy gardens. Therefore, the Savior cried out to him, saying, I desire not the loss of my creation, but that it be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth; for he that cometh to me, I shall not cast out.

Great Lent is the 50-day season of spiritual preparation that comes before the most important Feast of the Christian year, Holy Easter. This annual season of repentance is a spiritual journey with our Savior. Our goal is to meet the risen Lord Jesus, Who reunites us with God the Father. The Father is always waiting to greet us with outstretched hands. We must ask ourselves the question, “Are we willing to turn to Him?” During Great Lent, the Church teaches us how to re­ceive Him by using the two great means of repentance— prayer and fasting.

The purpose of fasting is to remind us of the Scriptural teaching, “Man does not live by bread alone.” The needs of the body are nothing compared to the needs of the soul. Above all else, we need God, Who provides everything for both the body and the soul. Fasting teaches us to depend on God more fully. The first sin of our parents, Adam and Eve, was eating from the forbidden tree (Genesis 3:1-19). We fast from food, or a food item, as a reminder that we are to fast from sin­ning and doing evil.

There are several benefits of fasting. Fasting helps us pray more easily. Our spirit is lighter when we are not weighed down by too much food or food that is too rich. Through fasting, we also learn to feel compassion for the poor and hungry and to save our own resources so that we can help those in need. Fasting is more than not eating food. Saint John Chrysostom teaches that it is more important to fast from sin. For example, besides controlling what goes into our mouths, we must control what comes out of our mouths as well. Are our words pleasing to God, or do we curse God or our brother?

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