Saturday, February 21, 2009

Great Lent Begins

As we enter the Lenten season (March 2), there are things we can do to prepare ourselves for the celebration of The Resurrection on Pascha. Here are some things we should consider:

Prayer - All good things begin with prayer. Think about it this way; when we meet someone we like, we spend time talking with them. The more we talk with them the more we know them and the more we want to know. Prayer is a conversation with God. We should tell him our fears, ask him to guide us and thank him for our blessings. If you do not already have one, order an Orthodox prayer book to help you.

Go to Church - We know some of us may think that church only occurs on Sunday. Wrong! The Orthodox Church offers an entire cycle of worship throughout the year. No time is that more evident than during Lent. We should go to the Divine Liturgy on Sunday but we should also go to the other liturgical services (Vespers, Compline, Salutations & Akathist Hymn, Pre-Sanctified Liturgy). But here is the really important part, we should not just "go" to the services…we need to be active participants in the services. Ask your priest where you can get books for the services so that you can participate by reading, chanting and following along.

Repentance/Confession - We know it is hard, but confession is necessary for spiritual growth. Do not look at it as going in with your shopping lists of sins and trying to rattle them off as quickly as possible. Instead look at it as an opportunity to fix your relationship with God through repentance. Repentance is accepting that we have done something wrong and (here's the hard part) committing to try very, very hard not fall into those sins again.

Read the Bible - If you don't have one, get one immediately! Ask your priest for the list of daily bible readings for the church calendar. This will help you in your journey through lent and throughout the year.

Fast - We know what you are all thinking… beans, greens and rice how does that make me a better Christian? Fasting is really about discipline. We discipline ourselves in other areas of our life (athletics, academic). We should be disciplining ourselves spiritually in what we do as well as in what we eat.

Give - Take time during lent to give to those in need. You do not need money to do this. Ask yourself how can I give of my time, talents and treasure to give Glory to God?

Excerpted from: For The Youth-What's Up With Lent?
by Melissa K. Bazos and Anna Nicole Kyritsis

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