April 4, 2011

The Fifth Week of Great Lent

By Sergei V. Bulgakov

In the Divine Services for the fifth week of Great Lent the Holy Church continues to call us to an active bearing of the Lenten efforts, appealing: "Through abstinence the faithful have a fortress with God, through others let us youthfully run the holy course". "In fervent faith let us burn up the lustful passions with abstinence, and flee from the icy cold of sin; with the streams of our tears let us quench the eternal flame". "Let us make our own pure fasting, tears, meditation on the divine things, and every other virtue; and let us now offer our Panagia to Christ". The general consolation is encouraging to the bearing of the Lenten effort, and the Holy Church presents us the idea that half of the effort is already accomplished and that its end, Christ's Resurrection, is near. "Having passed the middle point," hymns the Holy Church, "in this dedicated way of fasting, let us go forward joyfully to the part that still remains, anointing our souls with the oil of good deeds. So let us be worthy to venerate the divine Passion of Christ our God, to attain His dread and holy Resurrection". Together with this the Holy Church motivates her children to fervent continuation of bearing the Lenten efforts and reminds them about "the most glorious grace" "the most honorable fast, through which the prophet Elijah found the fiery chariot, and Moses received the Tablets; Daniel was magnified, and Elisha raised the dead, the Children quenched the fire, and all men are reconciled to God", and inspires us that "good fasting feeds our hearts, ripening within us thoughts pleasing to God, and causing the abyss of our passions to dry up, and with the rain of compunction it cleanses those who in faith offer praise to the Almighty", and that "the fasting of the ascetics receives their reward" from God: "Peace and illumination and the healing of our broken souls", "mercy on our souls", "a sweetness that grows not old". Such exhortations strengthening us in the ascetic efforts of fasting, the Holy Church inspires us to pray to the Lord that He grant, "The season of Lent will end peacefully". The intensification at the end of the Lenten expanse of promoting an unrelenting way of life pleasing to God, the Holy Church even during the present week continues to remind us that we have run into sin, similarly to running into robbers, and inspires us to expect mercy from the Lord. In particular Thursday and Saturday of this week are marked with special destination.