Sundays of Great Lent

The Church’s weekly celebration of the Resurrection cannot be stopped during the Great Fast. We continue to commemorate this saving day without fail. The command of our Lord to remember provides the high point for the week. On Sunday we have the lamp of our journey lit. Saturday will always be the day of rest from creation. But Sunday is the day of the new creation. The day Christ rises from the grave he makes us a spiritual creation. We are born again in the death and resurrection of Christ.

From the earliest days of the Church the celebration of the Resurrection was the central act of worship. From this Feast of Feasts the rays of the resurrection stretch to the entire year through the Sunday Eucharistic celebration. The joy of this new creation spreads to the entire year. During the Great Fast Sunday becomes the thematic turning point for each week. The journey to Pascha begins with the expulsion of Adam on the Sunday of Cheesefare. Then on each successive Sunday we change focus. During each following week we elaborate on the theme. Step-by-step we approach the destination, Pascha.

On the first Sunday we commemorate the triumph of true worship, the Sunday of Orthodoxy. This historical event, the restoration of icons for use in the Church, affirms that our journey is not alone, but as a pilgrim Church together. I don’t follow my own feelings or decisions, but place myself in the company of the faithful in the Church.

On the Second Sunday the paralytic stands for my own spiritual illness before God. As I make the journey back from exile must ask the Lord for his healing power. I acknowledge my need for healing along the way.

At the mid-point of the Great Fast the Church plants the cross in our midst. Following Christ will entail taking up the cross daily, willingly as he did. I must expect no better than what our Lord received.

On the fourth Sunday the Church offers the “Ladder of Divine Ascent”. This book by Saint John Climacus spells out all the behaviors that build up our souls and those that tear it down. Each is like a step on Jacob’s ladder to heaven.

Finally, Mary of Egypt provides us with an example for turning my own life around. She found the Lord and came from the life of sin and death to the new life in Christ.

Taken from bulletin insert prepared by Steve Puluka, based upon the book  by Father Alexander Schmemann, Great Lent: Journey to Pascha.

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