Holy and Great Lent 2016

Holy and Great Lent 2016

As we begin this Holy and Great Lent, the following link is a short, simple excerpt on the importance of fasting both in body and spirit by Saint Philaret of New York On Fasting to help us to keep in mind the purpose and intent of true fasting.

Special services and prayers of Great Lent include the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete, the Akathist Hymn to Our Most Holy Theotokos and the Prayer of Saint Ephraim.

The Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete, is read the first four nights of Great Lent, Clean Monday through Clean Thursday, at Great Compline when it is read in parts each night. The canon is read at Matins on Thursday of the fifth week of Great Lent when it is read as a whole. Saint Andrew reminds us that it is through humility and hope in God that we come to repentance. A canon is a liturgical hymn and a Great Canon such as this is composed of twelve odes. This Kontakion is one of the most well know and is an excellent representation of the entire hymn:

“Ψυχή μου, ψυχή μου, ανάστα, τί καθεύδεις τό τέλος εγγίζει καί μέλλεις θορυβείσθαι· ανάνηψον ούν, ίνα φείσηταί σου Χριστός ο Θεός, ο πανταχού παρών καί τά πάντα πληρών.”

“My soul, my soul, arise! Why are you sleeping? The end is drawing near, and you will be confounded. Wake, then, and be watchful, that Christ our God may spare you, Who is everywhere present and fills all things.” –Kontakion, Tone VI

Listen here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtxr6zPaj_I

The following is a brief life of Saint Andrew of Crete:

AndrewofcreteBorn in Damascus of Christian parents, he was dumb until the age of seven. When his parents took him to church for Communion, the power of speech was given to him. Such is the divine power of Communion.

 He went to Jerusalem at the age of fourteen and was tonsured in the monastery of St Sava the Sanctified. In his understanding and ascesis, he surpassed many of the older monks and was an example to all. The Patriarch took him as his secretary.

 When the Monothelite heresy, which taught that the Lord had no human will but only a divine one, began to rage, the Sixth Ecumenical Council met in Constantinople in 681, in the reign of Constantine IV. Theodore, Patriarch of Jerusalem, was not able to be present at the Council, and sent Andrew, then a deacon, as his representative. At the Council, Andrew showed his great gifts: his articulateness, his zeal for the Faith and his rare prudence. Being instrumental in confirming the Orthodox faith, Andrew returned to his work in Jerusalem.

 He was later chosen and enthroned as archbishop of the island of Crete. As archbishop, he was greatly beloved by the people. He was filled with zeal for Orthodoxy and strongly withstood all heresy. He worked miracles through his prayers, driving the Saracens from the island of Crete by means of them. He wrote many learned books, poems and canons, of which the best-known is the Great Canon of Repentance which is read in full on the Thursday of the Fifth Week of the Great Fast.

Such was his outward appearance that, ‘looking at his face and listening to the words that flowed like honey from his lips, each man was touched and renewed’. Returning from Constantinople on one occasion, he foretold his death before reaching Crete. And so it happened. As the ship approached the island of Mitylene, this light of the Church finished his earthly course and his soul went to the Kingdom of Christ, in about the year 740.

From The Prologue from Ochrid by Bishop Nikolai Velimirovich  ©1985 Lazarica Press

The Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God was written by Saint Romanos the Melodist and first chanted in annunciation626 in advance of an attack by the Avars on Constantinople.

This akathist is an acrostic hymn in which each kontakion and oikos begins with a subsequent letter of the Greek alphabet. The hymn is a simple, beautiful explanation of and instruction in our Orthodox Christian Faith.

The Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God is cherished by Orthodox people all over the world. It is chanted every Friday evening during Great Lent.

In this beautiful hymn, all of the events surrounding our Lord’s Incarnation are recounted.

Prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian
O Lord and Master of my life, a spirit of idleness, curiosity, ambition, and idle talk give me not. (prostration)

But a spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love, bestow upon me Thy servant. (prostration)

Yea, O Lord King, grant me to see mine own failings and not to condemn my brother; for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen. (prostration)

Then we make 12 bowes, after which we repeat the concluding verse of the prayer:

Yea, O Lord King, grant me to see mine own failings and not to condemn my brother; for blessed art Thou unto the ages of ages. Amen. (prostration)

Κύριε καὶ Δέσποτα τῆς ζωῆς μου, πνεῦμα ἀργίας, περιεργίας, φιλαρχίας, καὶ ἀργολογίας μή μοι δῷς.

Πνεῦμα δὲ σωφροσύνης, ταπεινοφροσύνης, ὑπομονῆς, καὶ ἀγάπης χάρισαί μοι τῷ σῷ δούλῳ.

Ναί, Κύριε Βασιλεῦ, δώρησαι μοι τοῦ ὁρᾶν τὰ ἐμὰ πταίσματα, καὶ μὴ κατακρίνειν τὸν ἀδελφόν μου, ὅτι εὐλογητὸς εἶ, εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων. Ἀμήν.

Господи и владыко живота моегω, духъ праздности, оунынїѧ, любоначалїѧ и празднословїѧ не даждь ми.

Духъ же цѣломѹдрїѧ, смиренномѹдрїѧ, терпѣнїѧ и любве, дарѹй ми рабѹ твоемѹ.

Ей Господи Царю, даруй ми зрѣти моѧ прегрѣшенїѧ, и не ωсуждати брата моегω, якω благословенъ еси во вѣки вѣковъ. Аминь

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