HOUSTON: Over two and half million Malankara Orthodox Christians world wide will begin to observe the great lent from today. Great lent is the occasion for them to purge themselves from all infirmities of their lives.
“The beginning of lent is marked with the rite of Shubkono, namely, asking mutual forgiveness. At the end of prayer at ninth hour, the priest preaches on love and forgiveness. Thereafter the priest kneels towards the congregation and asks forgiveness from them and the congregation reciprocates the same to the priest. Thus the congregation and the priest reconciles with each other. The congregation is asking forgiveness from each other as well, as part of Shubkono. It is in this spirit of total reconciliation that the congregation enters into the great lent”, Fr. Dr. George Pulikkottil, Professor of Nagpur Seminary, told the IOH.
The great lent is observed for forty days. It is marking the forty days of fasting that Jesus observed on the mountain during his period of temptation and trials from Satan. These forty days also correspond to the forty days of fasting by Ninevites, that of Moses, Elijah, forty years that Israel endured in the desert on their way to Canaan, the paradise on earth.
Great Lent Prayer Book
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Fortieth day of the lent, which is the Friday before Lazarus’ remembrance, therefore, gains importance. It precedes the Palm Sunday and the Passion Week, which precedes Easter. The seven days of Passion Week are also a time of rigorous fasting.
Orthodox Fathers teach that the first human sinned in Paradise, and it caused the fall of humans. This sin incepted carnal nature into humans. Through fasting Orthodox Christians attempt to recapture the Paradise in their lives by refraining from carnal nature and practices.
This year Palm Sunday falls on March 28, Maundy Thursday on April 1st, Good Friday on April 2nd, and Easter on April 4th.
This is one of those rare years in which the forty days of fasting and feasts during the Passion Week as well as Easter coincides for the whole Christendom.