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Great Lent: O Holy and Salvific Great Lent, come in Peace

Fr. George Pulikkottil, Dr. Theol., Chicago

“Being forty days tempted of the devil. And in those days he did eat nothing: and when they were ended, he afterward hungered.” - St. Luke 4:2.

The holy and Salvific Great Lent is observed in the Church from the very early time of its formation. The inspiration for this Lent is because of two main reasons:

First, Our Lord had observed it and showed us clearly that it is a tool to defeat Satan and his temptations in a very effective way.

Secondly, this lent of total commitment and discipline leads a Christian to fix his concentration to Christ and His Cross in a very meaningful way.

Thus we pray in the introductory of the first day of this Lent: “Make us worthy, O Lord God, by Your abundant grace, for the remission of sins and forgiveness of debts on this holy day which is the beginning of Your Holy Fast. Grant us with clean heart, to ask forgiveness from one another, and forgive one another, according to Your Teachings; so that by observing this Fast with purity, we may partake of Your Holy Mysteries in sincerity, our Lord and our God, forever.”

Lent is a special cry for repentance. We do admit that we are sinners. Like David said out of his repentance, we do acknowledge: “Against you have I sinned”. Church teaches that God is the only one who takes pity on sinners and hence we pray: “O Lord, Lord of all, have mercy upon us. On whose door, but on Yours, shall we knock, O our compassionate Lord have mercy upon us. Like the sinful woman we cry out, and like the publican we entreat You, O Lord and Lord of all, have mercy upon us.”

What is the basic message of lent or the goal that we have to achieve by observing this fast? Through Lenten prayers, the Church Fathers teach us that the goal of Lent is a complete transformation from all the powers of evil to the perfect Love of God. So we pray during the Lenten season: “O love, how sweet you are, blessed be your tree! (The tree means that the embodiment of real love manifested on the tree, the Cross, which is the culmination of the forty day lent and Passion-week.) Wherever You are, there tranquility abounds. By You, our Lord entered Abraham’s home. By You, the priests approached the sanctuary and by You, the apostle Paul was crying and saying: Neither tribulation, nor tortures and persecutions shall separate me from the love of the Lord, Halleluiah. Blessed be He who gave it to us. Concerning love, Paul wrote, that nothing can compare with it. Blessed be he who attains it, for he shall behold the Lord. By, love Moses saw Him in the court. By love, the Church saw Him on the Cross. Behold, she offers Him glory day and night, Halleluiah, Halleluiah. The Son of God commands us, if your brother offends you, bear no enmity against him. Remember that you too have your faults. And just like him, you are need of forgiveness. Go therefore, be reconciled with your brother and be his friend, that both of you may cry, saying: Glory to You, O lord, Halleluiah, Halleluiah.” So Lent and Fasting get its meaning in practicing the Love of God that we see in Christ on the Cross.

These fifty days of Lent has been known as Great Lent while it leads a Christian to achieve his final Goal, that is witnessing Christ through His cross and lead a life according to the principle of Cross. For those who aim this goal, lent becomes a means or tool of help. The Church thus pray and announce: “Let us receive with joy, O faithful, the divinely inspired announcement of Lent. Like Nivevites of old, like harlots and publicans who heard John preaching repentance through abstinence, let us prepare for the Master’s communion performed in Zion. Let us wash ourselves with tears for its divine purification. Let us pray to behold the fulfillment of Pascha, the true Revelation. Let us prepare for adoring the Cross and Resurrection of Christ our God! Do not deprive us of our expectation, O Lover of Humankind.”

May God bless all of us to have a meaningful Lenten Season which leads us to the Feast of Resurrection.

Be with him and Be like him.

See Also:

Do You Fast?
According to St. John Chrysostom, fasting is not just forsaking food. It is what you do that counts.

Why Should We Observe the Lent and Fasting?
We should keenly look forward to the Lent- because the purpose of Prayer & Fasting is to defeat the Satan.

A Different Approach to Fasting
Lenten fasts have a tendency to be oriented toward things like giving up food  or television. But there are many other creative ways we can welcome Jesus' healing touch this Lent.

On Fasting
Fasting is a medicine. But medicine, as beneficial as it is, becomes useless because of the inexperience of the user.

More Articles on lent

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