Great Lent and Holy Week

Special Weekly Lenten Services

To assist our parishioners with their spiritual journey, each year additional services are offered in the Cathedral. Great Lent is not just a period of increased fasting, but also a period of increased prayer and worship. The following special Lenten Services will take place in the Cathedral. As usual, please consult the online calendar for regular updates as schedules sometimes change.

Monday, March 2nd - Holy Unction 7pm - The Sacrament of Healing Oil

Sunday, March 8 - Sunday of Orthodoxy PanOrthodox Vespers 5pm - The commemoration of the glorious restoration of Holy Icons which originally took place in 787 AD. Attended by every Orthodox Christian Parish in Tampa Bay, the service include a solemn public proession of icons through the streets of Tarpon Springs.

Wednesdays, March 4 through April 15 - Presanctified Liturgy 5:30pm -Because the Divine Liturgy is the "Banquet of Christ", a festive, triumphant celebration, the ancient discipline of the Church came to regard it as out of harmony with the penitential climate of Great Lent. Yet to provide the faithful with the "food of immortality", the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, that is, with the Eucharistic Gifts consecrated beforehand, at the Liturgy of the previous Sunday, came into use early on.

Fridays, March 6 through April 3 - Saluations to the Theotokos 7pm - The Akathist hymn consists of praises directed to the Mother of God, beginning with the salutation of the Archangel Gabriel: "Rejoice." As the hymn is chanted all of the events related to our Lord's Incarnation pass before us for our contemplation. The Archangel Gabriel marvels at the Divine self-emptying and the renewal of creation which will occur when Christ comes to dwell in the Virgin's womb. The unborn John the Baptist prophetically rejoices. The shepherds recognize Christ as a blameless Lamb, and rejoice that in the Virgin "the things of earth join chorus with the heavens." The pagan Magi following the light of the star, praise Her for revealing the light of the world.

Fridays, March 6 through April 10 - PreSanctified Liturgy 9am

Prayer of Saint Ephraim the Syrian

Lord and Master of my life, take away from me the spirit of laziness, idle curiosity, lust for power and vain talk

(full prostration)

But give me the spirit of moderation, humility, patience and love

(full prostration)

Yes, Lord and King grant me to see my own faults and not to judge my brothers and sisters

(full prostration)

For you are blessed unto the ages of ages, Amen

How should I fast?

The following are some suggested guidelines for Great Lent this year.

  • If you currently do not fast regularly or at all… abstain from meat on Wednesdays and Fridays

  • If you currently fast from meat on Wednesdays and Fridays… abstain from meat every day during Great Lent

  • If you currently fast… increase your fasting one “level” this year following the example above beginning with Wednesdays and Fridays.

Suggested Fasting Levels in the Orthodox Christian Tradition

1.       Abstain from meat

2.       Abstain from meat and dairy products

3.       Abstain from fish

4.       Abstain from wine and oil

5.       Abstain from cooked foods

It has always been the understanding of the Church that fasting is forbidden for those who have a medical condition requiring food for medications or other requirements such as pregnant and nursing mothers. We must remember that fasting is a spiritual discipline and not meant to cause physical harm. These suggestions are for your spiritual growth, and are not meant to obligate you in any way. You should speak with your spiritual father about your specific fasting situation.

How should I fast for PreSanctified Liturgy?

Now that Great Lent is upon us and the Church offers the Presanctified Liturgy on Wednesday evening, the question of fasting and Holy Communion again raises to the surface. On Sunday we know (provided we are healthy and no other prohibitions from our doctor regarding fasting) that we should refrain from all food and drink until after we receive Holy Communion on Sunday mornings. But what if we are planning on receiving Holy Communion on Wednesday night, when should we fast?

For those adults who are physically able, we are asked to fast just as we would on Sunday morning all day from the time we awake until after we receive Holy Communion. It is acceptable to drink simple beverages such as coffee or tea or preferably water (not milk, milkshakes, beer etc) until about noon and then complete fast until Holy Communion. I must remind you that fasting is not meant to make you ill, but to be an offering to God and discipline of our bodies. If you become light headed or need some food, by all means have a small snack especially if you are in a situation where you must remain alert such as driving or other physical labor. If you must eat during the day, a light breakfast and light lunch should be sufficient followed by a complete fast following lunch until Holy Communion.

For those children who already fast on Sunday morning, they should be asked to follow as much of the fast as they are able. As parents this will require discernment in how are children are behaving and feeling. Again it is not meant to make our children ill, however many times our children can fast more than we realize and it should be encouraged as an offering to God and spiritual discipline. For children who do not yet fast, a small snack should be offered around 4pm.

For everyone who is receiving Holy Communion, or Holy Unction or any other Mystery (Sacrament) of the Church, the Church teaches us to fast in preparation and we should do this to the best of our abilities. Great Lent is a perfect time to exercise our free will and to offer our “bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God.” Romans 12.11) It has always been the understanding of the Church that fasting is forbidden for those who have a medical condition requiring food for medications or other requirements such as pregnant and nursing mothers. We must remember that fasting is a spiritual discipline and not meant to cause physical harm.

Holy Confession

The gift of God's forgiveness is received through private prayer, corporate worship, the disciplines of prayer and fasting, penitential services and above all through the sacrament of Holy Confession.
 
The value of Holy Confession is twofold. First, through this sacramental act of the ordained priest and the Christian believer we have the assurance of divine forgiveness, according to the words of Christ (Jn 20:23). Secondly, Holy Confession provides the opportunity to talk about one's deep concerns, to receive counsel and to be encouraged toward spiritual growth, all of which are universally recognized as extremely beneficial to personal life.
 
Holy Confession is appropriate whenever an Orthodox Christian feels the need for it. It is also a part of our total spiritual preparation during the fast periods leading up to the great feasts of Easter, Christmas, the Falling Asleep of the Theotokos and the Feast of Twelve Apostles. However, Holy Confession is especially necessary:
 
  1. when a serious sin has been committed;
  2. when a habitual sin has overwhelmed a Christian, or
  3. when a Christian has stopped growing spiritually and needs a reexamination of priorities.
 
We confess our sins to God and the power of forgiveness is God's. However, the gift of God's forgiveness, although assured, is not magical. It does not automatically spare us from spiritual struggle - the continual vigilance against evil and the unceasing warfare against sin. Holy Confession will bear fruits in the Spirit only when the believer hates evil, utterly rejects sin and patiently cultivates positive habits of the life in Christ. "So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to Christ Jesus. Do not yield your members to sin as instruments of wicked ness, but yield yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life" (Rm 6:11, 13)
 
How can one prepare for Holy Confession? Preparation for Holy Confession is a prayerful examination of feelings, thoughts, words, acts, attitudes, habits, values, priorities, goals, direction and way of life. This prayerful self-examination includes not only the personal religious life, but also family relationships, social activities, job conduct, business dealings, political commitments and even recreational pursuits, because our entire existence should be lived in under the light of the Holy Spirit is not to condemn ourselves, but to affirm our true selves in Christ who has given us access to God's mercy and forgiveness and who has taught us to live for God's glory. We should remember, the church is not a courtroom and the priest is not a judge.
 
Father Athanasios is available for the Sacrament of Holy Confession by appointment.

Be Transfigured Ministries Daily Lenten Journey

Each year, Be Transfigured Ministries offers a Daily Lenten Journey to assist in your daily stuggle for a successful Great Lent. CLICK HERE for the Be Transfigured Ministries 2020 Daily Lenten Journey...

HOLY WEEK SCHEDULE 2020

 Saturday of Lazaros 11 April
   8:00 am    Orthros/Matins
   9:15 am    Divine Liturgy
 10:30 am    Coffee & Lazarakia
  6:00 pm    Vespers
 
Palm Sunday     12 April
  7:00 am    Orthros
  8:15 am    Divine Liturgy and distribution of palms 
11:00 am    Divine Liturgy and distribution of palms 
  7:00 pm     The Bridegroom Service 
    
Holy Monday     13 April
  9:00 am    Presanctified Liturgy
  7:00 pm    The Bridegroom Service 
 
Holy Tuesday     14 April
  9:00 am     Presanctified Liturgy
7:00 pm     The Bridegroom Service 
 
Holy Wednesday  15 April
  9:00 am    Presanctified Liturgy 
  3:00 pm    The Sacrament of Holy Unction 
  5:30 pm    Presanctified Liturgy
  7:00 pm    The Bridegroom Service & Anointing with Holy Unction 
 
Holy Thursday     16 April
  7:00 am     The Vespers and Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great (Mystical Supper)
 7:00 pm     The Holy Passion Service & with the 12 Gospels 
 
Holy Friday     17 April
  8:00 am    Service of the Royal Hours 
  3:00 pm    The Taking down from the Cross Service 
  7:00 pm    The Lamentations & Procession of the Epitafios
 
Holy Saturday     18 April
  7:00 am     Τhe Vespers and Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great (First Anastasis)
 10:00 am    The Vespers and Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great (First Anastasis) 
    2:00pm    Trisagion and Blessing of the Graves at Cycadia Cemetery
   11:00pm    Resurrection Vigil
 
HOLY PASCHA     19 APRIL
10:00 am    The Agape Vespers

App Coming Soon

Download on the App StoreGet it on Google Play