Clean Wednesday: Spiritual Fast

My dish for the first Lenten potluck of 2015 is marinating in the fridge, but as much as I’m looking forward to the potluck, the thing that’s making me really happy is thinking about hearing Let My Prayer Arise for the first time. And the noise of everyone shuffling around in the chapel trying to find a spot to make prostrations during the Prayer of St. Ephraim. We also have some great stichera that teach us about the true meaning of the fast – that’s the great thing about Orthodox liturgical music, it has real meaning and you can learn so much from it. If you attend all the services for one year and pay attention to the music, you will learn everything the Church believes.

Here are a few stichera to get us through these last few hours before Presanctified Liturgy. I hope you all get to enjoy breaking the fast afterwards (to some degree) with your church family like I will! *Not the fast, the Clean Week/Eucharistic fast 🙂

While fasting physically, brethren, let us also fast spiritually. Let us loose every knot of iniquity. Let us tear up every unrighteous bond. Let us distribute bread to the hungry, and welcome into our homes those who have no roof over their heads, so that we may receive the Great Mercy from Christ our God.

Elias was enlightened through fasting. He mounted the chariot of good works and was taken up to the heights of heaven. Emulate him, O humble soul. Abstain from every evil and jealousy, from every fleeting pleasure, so that ye might be cleansed of corrupting disease, the fires of Gehenna, crying to Christ: O Lord, glory to Thee.

O divine apostles, fervent intercessors for the world, defenders of the Orthodox. Ye possess the authority to entreat Christ our God with boldness. We entreat ye to pray for us, O honorable ones, that we might spend the good time of fasting in joyousness and receive the grace of the consubstantial Trinity. Pray for our souls, O great and glorious preachers.

Clean Tuesday

2014 Good Fight
From All Saints Greek Orthodox Monastery on facebook.

One more day to go until our first Presanctified Liturgy of Great Lent.

“O godly apostles, fervent intercessors of the world and defenders of the Orthodox, ye who have the power to draw near with boldness unto Christ our God. O all revered ones
we beg you: pray on our behalf that unhindered we may keep the holy season of the fast and recieve the grace of the consubstantial Trinity. O great and glorious preachers worthy of all honor, pray for us.”
Stichera for the 1st Wednesday in Great Lent, Tone 5, verse 5

That He Might Come and Raise Our Minds

Raising of Lazarus Icon
Jesus told those who were with Him when He walked in the flesh by the River Jordan: My friend Lazarus is already dead, given over for burial. But I rejoice for your sake, O friends, for by his death ye shall learn that I know all, for I am God, even though I have appeared as man. Let us go and bring Him to life, so that death may really feel its utter destruction, and the victory I shall win, granting the world Great Mercy.

Imitating Mary and Martha, O faithful, let us offer divine works to the Lord as they did, that He might come and raise our minds, which now lie dead in the tomb of carelessness, feeling no fear of God, and deprived of any living action. Behold, O Lord, Who of old didst raise Thy friend Lazarus by Thy coming. Give life to us also, O bountiful One, granting us Great Mercy.

Lazarus is in the tomb two days, seeing the dead of all ages, beholding strange sights of terror, a great crowd held by the bonds of hell. His relatives grieve bitterly, looking at his tomb. But Christ is coming to bring His friend to life, so that one harmonious song may be sung by all: Blessed art Thou, O Savior, have mercy on us.

Stichera from the Presanctified Liturgy, for the Sixth Wednesday of Great Lent

These stichera look forward to Lazarus Saturday, which this year (2013) will be April 27th.