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Finishing Great Lent

posted Apr 6, 2012, 8:26 AM by   [ updated Apr 6, 2012, 8:26 AM by Yulia Russiyanova ]
Dear Parents:

I have great news for you. Congratulations on having finished the grace-filled period of Great Lent. I pray that this period of fasting brought you closer to our Lord and Savior.

I also have another piece of great news. We have a great opportunity this weekend to prove to ourselves whether or not we are true Orthodox Christians or simply call ourselves by that name but do not live the life expected of Orthodox Christians.This weekend, by God's Providence, we celebrate three magnificent holidays.

First of all,this Saturday is called Lazarus Saturday because it is the day that our Savior did His greatest miracle. He resurrected from the dead His friend Lazarus who had been dead for four days. This amazing incredible miracle which occurred only days before the Savior was taken captive, tortured and killed convinced many people at the time who were unsure about Jesus Christ that He was in fact the Savior.

On Saturday, we also celebrate the Annunciation of the Mother of God, when Archangel Gabriel was sent by God to announce to the young maiden that she has been chosen by God to be the Mother of the Savior. This is such a significant Church event that a Russian proverb informs us that on the Annunciation birds rest from weaving their nests and maidens don't dare to braid their hair. The sacredness of this holiday is also accentuated by the Church easing our fasting on this day. We are permitted to eat fish.

The third holiday comes on Sunday, Palm Sunday, or as we call it in Russia, Verbnaia Sunday. It is the day that the Savior entered in a very triumphant way into Jerusalem to voluntarily accept His death at the hands in order to save people and reconcile them with God.

Because these two days celebrate such monumental events in the lives of Orthodox Christians, we are called to put aside all earthly cares and participate in the church services. This means that we need to go to church on Friday evening, Saturday Morning, Saturday evening, and Sunday morning. This is why I said in the beginning of this post that we have a chance to examine our hearts and determine if we are truly Orthodox Christians or just call ourselves such. Will we be able to put aside all earthly cares and celebrate together with our Savior and His most holy Mother these sacred moments of their earthly life. May God give us strength of will to do so.

And lastly, I was shocked and severely grieved to learn that some of our students, your children, had not even once gone to confession and received Holy Communion during Great Lent. If your child is one of these, please, I plead with you, fix this terrible oversight this weekend. Have your child receive Holy Communion at least during one of these days, if not on both. Do not deprive your child of this essential source of Grace. Without Holy Communion, we cannot be saved.

With Love in Christ,
Archpriest Serge Kotar, Chaplain