Orthodox Christians Begin Great Lent March 14 - Eastern Orthodox Pascha (Easter) Celebrated May 1
Mar 9, 2005
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New York, NY - Over 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, including some six million in North America, will enter the season of Great and Holy Lent on Monday, March 14. This solemn day will mark the beginning of the period of prayer and fasting that precedes the celebration of Easter (Pascha) the most sacred and holy day of the Orthodox Church, which will be observed this year on May 1.
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America and Chairman of the Standing Conference of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA), will concelebrate the Archierarchal Divine Liturgy on the First Sunday of Lent, commemorating the Triumph of Orthodoxy, with fellow SCOBA hierarchs at St. George Orthodox Cathedral, Worcester, MA on March 20 beginning at 10:00 a.m. Similar Orthodox services will be celebrated throughout the world on that day.
In their encyclical for March 20, the SCOBA hierarchs stated: This triumph of our faith does not belong to the past. It applies to our present age, where forces that oppose the Church's regard for the sanctity and integrity of the human being continue to manifest themselves in various forms. These forms range in substance and degree, appearing as false teachings that promote sexual impurity, as policies that justify military aggression, or as lethal practices such as abortion and assisted suicide. These forms are examples of contemporary forces within society that seek to diminish the integrity of the Church's teaching regarding the sanctity of the human being. Today, we continue to assert the truth of our Orthodox faith in the face of these heretical teachings regardless of their degree, context, or form.
Orthodox Christian Lent always begins on the Monday before the Sunday of Orthodoxy. It is designated as "Clean Monday", the "Monday of cleansing or purification". On that day Orthodox faithful are required to begin a spiritual and moral purification through fasting, prayer, meditation, repentance, attending Lenten religious services and partaking of the Sacraments of Confession and Communion. Religious services during the Lenten period are especially beloved by Orthodox faithful. They include the Compline, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, the Salutations to the Virgin Mary and the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil compiled in the 4th Century.
Sunday of Orthodoxy
The historical significance of the Sunday of Orthodoxy dates to 787 A.D. when the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council of Nicaea decreed the restoration of the icons as a means for the spiritual growth and formation of the Christian ethos and character in the likeness and image of God and His Saints. In 843 A.D. when the icons were finally restored in the churches, the first Sunday of Lent was designated as a day for thanksgiving and doxology. It came to be known as the "Sunday of Orthodoxy", calling the faithful to a rededication to the Orthodox Christian Faith, as received from the Apostles. Following the Divine Liturgy, the clergy lead the faithful in the Procession of Icons and the recitation of The Declaration of Faith.
Lenten and Paschal Calendar for 2005
Great Lent Begins March 14
Holy Week (Palm Sunday through Holy Saturday) April 24-April 30
Easter (Pascha) Sunday May 1
Ascension Day June 9
Pentecost June 19
For more information on the Orthodox Christian observance of Great Lent and Pascha:
For information on the Calendar of the Orthodox Church: