There is a gap of 18 days from the end of 3 days Lent and the beginning of the 50 days Lent. In fact from the beginning of 3 days Lent, the Holy Church is in its earnest attempt of entering a great important spiritual exercise of 120 days at a stretch. It begins with the 3 days lent which is often revered as the smallest Lent among the canonical Lents, and ends with the feast of the Pentecost.
Feast of Pentecost is nothing else other than the first day in the history of Christian Church on which Holy Spirit was granted from heaven in abundance. The Holy Church of the first century including the blessed Apostles St. Mary Mother of God and other faithful waited for the blessing of the Holy Spirit as they were advised by our Lord and Redeemer at the time of His ascension to Heaven. The number of the people who waited for the Holy Spirit with ‘one mind and one prayer’ was 120, as recorded in the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. This number ’120 must have been a divine number for the first century Church Fathers and the same reason must have influenced them to mould a rigorous program for the future generations for the spiritual revival and development.
The three days Lent, which we have observed recently is considered as the forerunner of the greatest and longest Lent of 50 days. At the end of the 50 days Lent we experience and live in the passions of our Savior, His death on the cross, proclamation Gospel to the departed and the very blessed resurrection.
50 days of fasting, prayers, meditation and real repentance ends in the divine glory and celebration of the victory over Satan, the evil forces and death.
After Easter we observe the Pentecost on the 50th day or the 120th day from the first day of 3 days among the five canonical Lents 3 days Lent is the only pre-Christian Lent or the lent in which our Lord or the blessed Apostles had no involvement. But Lord Jesus has highlighted the Lent by referring the 3 days spent by Prophet Jonah in the belly of the grand fish, when and where the Pharisees and Saducees wanted a sign from our Lord. Our Lord told them “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whales belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (St. Matthew 12: 40) When we observed the 3days Lent we were supposed to meditate the stay of our savior in the heart of the earth, His creation, for three days and three nights for the salvation of the entire humanity and the universe.
We sing the hymn during our worship “our wrath to the people of Nineveh was not considered due to their cry and tears” We should not forget the truth that our tears are the vital part of our Lents and fasting. Originally we had fasting from morning till evening and the same was converted as Lents when our ancestors were taught by the foreign Churches to observe Lents instead of fasting. It was only because of their poor underrating about the teachings of our Lord, they had taught like that. While observing fasting we identify ourselves to the poor and suffering in the world. We realize the pain of starvation. And of course we must give alms to the deserving when we fast and pray. We must shed tears while observing the fasting. We must realize that the tears are the precious gifts in heaven. The prayers exhort us that one and all who might fast, will be in heaven. The prayers as well as the fasting are two feathers to fly up to heaven.
During the 18 days gap there comes two Sundays. On the first Sunday the Holy Church honors all the departed clergy and on the second Sunday all departed souls are honored. Actually the Holy Church is seeking the co-operation and assistance from the departed clergy and the entire faithful to proceed further, when and where we have to fight with the satanic forces.
When a war takes place in between two armored forces, each fighting troop will seek the assistance and help of other supporting troops like the medical core, engineering troops etc. Likewise the Holy Church seeks the support and participation of all its counterparts during the Great War against the Satan and evil forces. Our Lord has given us fasting and prayer as useful weapons to fight against the Satan. Let us make use of them meaningfully.