of repentance are opening, Great Lent is beginning. Every year Great Lent is
repeated, and each time it brings us great benefit if we spend it as we should.
It is a preparation for the life to come and, more immediately, a preparation
for the Bright Resurrection.
Just as a stairway is built into
a tall building in order to enable one, by climbing the steps, to easily reach
the top, so too, the various days in the year serve as steps for our spiritual
This is especially true of the
days of Great Lent and Holy Pascha.
By means of Great Lent we cleanse
ourselves of the filth of sin, and at Holy Pascha we experience the blessedness
of Christ's Kingdom that is to come. In climbing a high mountain, one tries to
eliminate all unnecessary weight. The less a person carries, the easier it is
for him to climb and the higher he is able to climb. So, too, in order to
ascend spiritually, it is necessary first of all to free oneself from the
weight of sin. This weight is lifted from us through repentance, provided that
we banish from ourselves all enmity and forgive each person whom we consider to
be at fault before us. Once cleansed and forgiven by God, we then greet the
Bright Resurrection of Christ.
And what a priceless gift of God
we receive, at the culmination of our lenten struggle.
We already hear about this in the first hymns of the daily lenten
stichera: "Our food shall be the Lamb of God, on the holy and radiant
night of His Awakening: the Victim offered for us, given in communion to the
disciples on the evening of the Mystery." (Aposticha
sticheron, Sunday of the Last Judgment).
Communing of the Body and Blood
of the Risen Christ, unto life eternal - this is the aim of the holy
Quadragesima [Forty Days]. Not only on Pascha do we commune, but during Lent
also. On Pascha those people should commune who have fasted, confessed and
received the Holy Mysteries during Great Lent. Just before Pascha itself there is little opportunity for a proper and thorough
confession; the priests are very busy and most of the time occupied with the
Passion services. Rather one must prepare ahead of time.
Each time one receives the
Mysteries of Christ, one is united with Christ Himself; each time it is a
soul-saving act. Why, then, is such significance attached to receiving Holy
Communion on the night of Holy Pascha, and why are we all called to do so?
Then, especially, we are given to
experience the Kingdom of Christ. Then, especially, we are illumined with the Eternal Light
and strengthened for the spiritual ascent.
This is an irreplaceable gift of
Christ, an incomparable good. Let no one deprive himself of this joy and,
instead of receiving Holy Communion on Pascha night, hasten to eat meat and
other foods. Communing of the Holy Mysteries on that night prepares us for the
banquet in the eternal Kingdom of God.
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