Known to much of the world as Easter, Pascha is the term used by Orthodox Christians. “Pascha” is a transliteration of the Greek word, which is itself a transliteration of the Aramaic pascha, from the Hebrew pesach meaning Passover. It is the feast of the Resurrection of the Lord.
Before Lent Begins
The Journey to Pascha begins with preparation. We start with Zacchaeus Sunday, when we learn that Zacchaeus “sought to see who Jesus was” (Luke 19:3), and we are reminded that we should have that same desire and make the same effort to see Jesus.
Next comes the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee. This is the story of two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, an externally decent and righteous man of religion, and the other was a publican, a sinful tax-collector who was cheating the people. Though the Pharisee was genuinely righteous under the Law, he boasted before God and was condemned. The publican, although he was truly sinful, begged for mercy, received it, and was justified by God. Through this we learn that God is pleased not with our self-perceived righteousness, but with honest, humble repentance for we are all sinners.
The following week is the Sunday of the Prodigal Son, the young man who convinced his father to grant him his inheritance early and then spent it on a life of debauchery. His bad choices reduced him to eating the food put out for pigs. His return to his father illustrates to us that regardless of how far we have strayed, God is anxious to receive us again when we turn to him.
The next Sunday is Meatfare Sunday, the last day to eat meat before Pascha.
“The publican prayed only ‘God be merciful to me a sinner’ and was justified … and the prodigal son and the tax-collector, Zacchaeus, said nothing at all, and received the mercy of the Father and the forgiveness of Christ.” – – St. Dimitry of Rostov
These lessons encourage us to recognize our sins and repent fully and honestly, asking God, our Father, for mercy and forgiveness. This prepares us for the Sunday of Forgiveness and the Rite of Forgiveness. During this rite we face each other one-to-one to ask forgiveness and receive forgiveness from each one. The response to a request for forgiveness is “God forgives you and so do I.” Forgiveness Sunday is also Cheesefare Sunday – the last day to eat cheese before Pascha.
Lent begins the day after Forgiveness Sunday (Monday, March 11, 2019). It is also called the Great Lent or the Great Fast because this is the strictest fasting period in the church year. Now we enter into the Great Fast. No meat, cheese or other dairy, fish, wine, or oil unless specifically allowed for a special day.
In addition to fasting, Lent is a time of renewed devotion: of prayer and almsgiving. It is a time of repentance, a real renewal of minds, hearts and deeds in conformity with Christ and his teachings.
Help on the Journey
To help on our Journey to Pascha we offer the following resources and suggestions:
A complete Calendar of Great Lent services and activities is available at the back of the church near the corner entrance. If you want a copy e-mailed to you, contact Anna Glass at email@example.com.
“Ways to Share Great Lent and Pascha with Your Child” can be found at http://www.antiochian.org/node/25635. It includes how to explain the various services (including the Great Cannon of St. Andrew of Crete).
“40 activities for children for Great Lent” can be found on Orthodox Mom at http://www.orthodoxmom.com/2017/03/01/ways-to-involve-your-children-every-day-in-lent/
Orthodox Mom also has a “Lenten Meal Plan” at http://www.orthodoxmom.com/orthodox-kitchen/ If you are not a compulsive organizer, scroll past the information on how to create a binder and go straight to the myriad of recipes that follow.
Lenten Resources from International Orthodox Christian Charities are available at https://www.iocc.org/take-action/get-resources/great-lent-service-almsgiving .
Orthodox Christian Resources for the Lenten Fast includes recipes and readings: https://www.lenten-season.com/
Orthodox Christian Sunday School Teachers 2019 Lenten Resources
Not just for Sunday School teachers – it’s a plethora of ideas from which all can benefit.
Ask Mother Macaria (our bookstore manager) to recommend a book for Lenten reading. She is good at suggesting one that is aimed toward your particular focus or interest.
Check the bookrack at the back of the church for free material. A particularly good booklet is “Confession: The Healing Sacrament” by Jim Forest.
Daily readings can be found on Joy’s website http://joyofallwhosorrow-indy.org/. Click on “blog” and then click on “Saints and Scripture Readings of the Day.”
Read about the lives of saints at https://orthodoxwiki.org/Category:Saints. You can look them up by name or category.
Look for and attend the various services offered at Joy and the Sunday Vespers offered at other Orthodox churches (see flyer on bulletin board or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for a list).
Practice Psalm 141:3:
Set a guard, O Lord, over my mouth;
Keep watch over the door of my lips.
Give alms – a sacrificial financial gift above and beyond your usual giving to the church and the Capital Campaign.
Practice self-examination every day.
Consider the beatitudes (Matthew 5:1-1)
Go on a retreat. If you can’t get to a monastery, plan a day alone to read, reflect, and pray. Go to a favorite outdoor spot or somewhere where you will not be disturbed. Put up a sign “Do not disturb. Spiritual renewal taking place.”
Go to confession.
Watch for other resources and suggestions in our E-weekly. Not receiving the E-weekly and would like to? Contact email@example.com.
– Note –
Writer Anna Glass is a member of Joy who serves on our Capital Campaign Steering Committee. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org