This webinar features Fr. Evan Armatas and Elissa Bjeletich and originally aired on March 1, 2015.

Great Lent is the Church’s 40-day period of preparation for its greatest feast—the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It is the annual period that calls us back to God—a time of reflection and repentance. While no two families ready themselves during Great Lent exactly alike, there are time-tested spiritual disciplines the Church prescribes in order to direct our senses to God’s presence. In “Preparing Your Family for Great Lent,” Fr. Evan Armatas, Elissa Bjeletich talk with Melissa Tsongranis in an engaging discussion that offers parents practical ways to make Great Lent a transformative family experience. May your Lenten journey be blessed—one arriving at a glorious Pascha!

“Preparing Your Family For Great Lent” highlights:

  • seeing Great Lent as opportunity, not as an imposition
  • the importance of simplifying and ‘slowing down’ during Great Lent
  • there’s more to Great Lent than avoiding certain foods—there are opportunities for prayer and charitable works that round out the fast.
  • ways parents can make the Church come alive in the home during Great Lent 

Discussion Points:

  1. Reflect upon the following quote from Fr. Alexander Schmemann that conveys the need for a change of priorities during Great Lent and consider the proceeding question:
    • “We understand that it is simply impossible to pass from our normal state of mind made up almost entirely of fuss, rush, and care, into this new one without first ‘quieting down,’ without restoring in ourselves a measure of inner stability.”
    • While necessary responsibilities such as jobs, home management, school, and other activities continue during this time, how can your family attempt to address the voluntary “fuss, rush, and care” that would prevent your family from “quieting down” and shifting our minds and hearts toward the will of God?
  2. Parents, you are leaders, the primary role models for your children’s spiritual development. What an awesome responsibility! How can you best encourage your family—in its unique circumstances and abilities—to make a “doable and keep-able” plan for Great Lent in your home? Consult with your parish priest or spiritual adviser for further guidance.  
  3. As mentioned, fasting is only one of the spiritual disciplines that we pursue during Great Lent. There are also opportunities for prayer (private and corporate) and charitable acts that ground and complete the adjustments made to our diets. 
    • Determine when your family can pray daily together for a few minutes in the morning and/or evening. Have a prayer rule everyone can participate in and become familiar with—make that “doable and keep-able” too!
    • Determine when your family will attend the extraordinary Lenten services—Pre-Sanctified Liturgy, Salutations to the Theotokos, etc.
    • Determine when of-age members of the family can schedule, and prepare for, the sacrament of Holy Confession during Great Lent.
    • Perhaps by accessing some of the resources mentioned (listed), determine some creative ways to practice almsgiving—in Elissa’s beautiful phrasing, “to bless someone else”—during Great Lent that appeal to your family?
  4. Remembering that we experience Great Lent also as united members of the Body of Christ, are there ways to enhance your family’s Great Lent journey by interacting with fellow ‘travelers,’ sharing joys, struggles, and other topics—perhaps, over a meal of lentil soup?

Prayer of St. Ephrem

O Lord and Master of my life!
Take from me the spirit of sloth,
faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity,
humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.
Yea, Lord and King! Grant me to see my own errors
and not to judge my brother,
for Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

Prayer for Children

O Lord, help me not to want to have my own way all the time. Help me to love others. Keep me from being jealous, and help me to know when I am wrong.

--Guardian Angel Children's Prayer Book, An Introduction to the Divine Liturgy and Prayers for the Young Child, by Fr. T. 105

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