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Our season of Pre-Lent begins Sunday, February 17, ten weeks before Pascha (April 28). Pre-Lent is a three-week preparatory period which then gives way to Great Lent (40 days, beginning March 11), culminating in Holy Week and the awesome mysteries of Christ's Crucifixion, Burial, and Resurrection for our salvation.
Pre-Lent focuses our spiritual attention on the foundations of Christian life, the first being humble faith exemplified by the publican begging for mercy in the temple (Luke 18:10-14). The humble faith of the publican is contrasted with the prideful self-importance of the Pharisee who has nothing but disdain for the publican. The Pharisee "prayed with himself." The publican beat his breast and prayed without being able to raise his eyes to heaven. The publican went home justified before God.
This first week of Pre-Lent is a "fast-free" week in the Orthodox Church. All foods, including meat and dairy, are allowed on the normal fast days of Wednesday and Friday. As the Pharisee boasted of his fasting twice a week, we purposely forego such fasting to remind ourselves that fasting is but a tool of the spiritual life, not the ultimate goal. Any spirutual tool, no matter how beneficial, can be used for our detriment if used with boasting in one's self. Better to eat meat with humility than fast with pride. Ultimately all of us are to approach God like the publican, claiming no righteousness of our own yet imploring God for mercy and forgiveness of our sins. Such a prayer is heard by God, and we begin to live in the purity of forgiveness.
If you are interested in the Orthodox Faith, we welcome you to come and meet with us and pick up many interesting and informative pamplets that are available for you! If you should have any questions please feel free to call me at the Church at (330) 372-3895.
Thank you for visiting our website and we look forward to seeing you soon!
During times of inclement weather, especially snow and ice, we do not cancel services scheduled at St. John's. Use your best judgment as to whether or not you can travel from and to your home to attend.