Our orthopraxia – the correct way of thinking about, living, worshipping, and glorifying the Triune God – is especially celebrated today, the First Sunday of Great and Holy Lent, which is also called the Triumph of Orthodoxy and the reestablishment of the Orthodox veneration of holy icons in the liturgical life of the Church.
The most effective way to teach our children the joy of the liturgical life of the Church is to embrace it in our own lives. As Orthodox, we fast from food to be able to fast from sin. Fasting is not magic, but when we feast at the banquet of our souls through fasting we see God transforming our worldly desires towards His Kingdom. Fasting is not just about food, but also about healing our souls and caring for our neighbor by spending all that we can to visit the sick, the imprisoned, and feed and clothe the poor.
Click below to read a Message from Evangelos Metropolitan of New Jersey.
We will enter again this year into the purifying period of Great and Holy Lenten season. Monday, February 23rd begins our Lenten journey. This journey leads us from desolation, found in the corrupted nature of this world, to the beautiful gates of paradise, found in Christ’s resurrection. The Orthodox faithful are asked to engage these special holy days to make spiritual progress in their personal passage to salvation. The formula, given to us by the church, to accomplish this task is simple: prayer, fasting, forgiveness and charity.
An increase in corporate prayer is seen with the addition of the Presanctified Liturgy, the Salutations, Compline and Lenten Vespers. Here the Church lays out its program for your spiritual edification. By attending a number of these services each week, your spirit is led by the conscious of the Church. Likewise, in imitation of the Church, our own personal prayer life increases. As we pray at home, you will see your own prayer life blossom forth bearing fruit worthy of God’s incorruptible kingdom.
Fasting is self –sacrifice, a denial of the body to control carnal impulses. The body is more than food. It is spiritual and divine. We remember the words of the Saviour Himself when He said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). By denying our flesh, as the Holy Fathers indicate, our spirit feasts on God’s commandments.
“Today Christ is born of the Virgin in Bethlehem of Judah. Today is the beginning of the One who always existed; Today the Word becomes flesh! The powers of heaven rejoice, the earth and all mankind dance with glee, the Magi offer gifts and the shepherds shout in amazement. As for us, we cry out with untiring voices, “Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace and good will among men.” (Christmas Doxastikon—Tone 2)