Lent is a  40-day period the period of time before Easter. This great period of Lent which precedes the Resurrection of Christ is called by the Orthodox Church Quadragesima, (which is the Latin for “forty” - the 40 days of "fasting"). Lent is a period of time when one delves into himself with the light of the Holy Spirit in order to rid himself of the impediments which hold him back. It is a period when one strengthens his faith by more prayer and devo-tional life.

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It is a period of "abstinence" from foods, but primarily from personal iniqui-ties; of self-examination; of applying the riches of prayers and almsgiving; of adopting deeply the meaning of repentance; of atonement and reconciliation with God Almighty. Abstinence from foods (fasting) alone is a means of at-taining virtue; it is not an end in itself. During the period of fasting one makes a special attempt to evaluate his calling as a Christian; to listen to the voice of the Gospel and heed its commandments; to accept the constant invitation to enter Christ's Kingdom. It is an open invitation to everyone willing to enter; who believes in Christ and repents his iniquities; who makes an "about face" directly to Christ. To accomplish this - which is a year-round concern - the Christian Church instituted certain days of prayer and fasting as steps in a ladder to help those who need guidance to reach this spiritual plateau. The passages of the Gospels and the Epistles, the hymnology and prayers, the spirit of the Church - all endeavor to help the Christian cleanse himself spirit-ually through repentance. "Repent" is the first word Jesus Christ spoke in His proclamation to the people, as the epitome of His Gospel. Repentance is the main motivation of the Christian which acts to free him from sin. One's recog-nition of his sin, his contrition over it and lastly his decision to make an about -face change of his attitude are the steps of repentance. For one can learn to recognize iniquities from the Bible and the teachings of the Church. During the period of Lent the Christian is called to self-examination and self-control by the radiance of the Event of the Resurrection of Christ. This is why the Church designated such a period of time be observed before this great feast day. All of these steps must have genuine personal meaning to avoid becom-ing merely a habit and routine. Fasting encompasses the entire pious life of the Christian, as Christ proclaimed, that symbolizes a deep acceptance of His admonition to "repent". This can be achieved not so much in terms of time, but in deeds in love of God and one's fellow man. Fasting is understood as a means of temperance and sobriety, especially in relation to prayer, devotion and purity. It is also understood to be related to giving alms to the poor. The roots of fasting in the Christian Church are to be found in the Old Testament and the Jewish religion, both for certain days and certain foods. As a general rule, fasting precedes a religious feast. Many verses in the Old Testament refer to this: "Thus says the Lord of Hosts: the fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah seasons of joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore, love, truth and peace" (Zechariah 8:18-19). During the period of the Great Lent the awakening of the spirit of man comes about through inspiration from the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ. It is a time of self-examination and preparation, and of taking an inventory of one's inner life. He and Christ know his exact condition. At this time one sees him-self in the mirror of the Gospel - how he looks. One finds the means and ways to correct and improve himself. During the period of the Great Lent the awakening of the spirit of man comes about through inspiration from the Head of the Church, Jesus Christ. It is a time of self-examination and preparation, and of taking an inventory of one's inner life. He and Christ know his exact condition. At this time one sees himself in the mirror of the Gospel - how he looks. One finds the means and ways to correct and improve himself. Lent is a period of time when one delves into himself with the light of the Holy Spirit in order to rid himself of the impediments which hold him back. It is a period when one strengthens his faith by more prayer and devotional life.

Rev. Fr. George Mastrantonis