Maksym Tymo, the liturgist and the teacher of UCU, begins the series of explanations of the texts that we sing during the services of the Great Lent, explaining, therefore, a lot of interesting details of understanding, perception and experience of the Great Lent. We invite you to go deeper into this incredible world of church services.
Читай українською: ПРО ЩО СПІВАЮТЬ У ЦЕРКВІ: ПОЯСНЕННЯ БОГОСЛУЖІНЬ ВЕЛИКОГО ПОСТУ
The beginning of the holy Great Lent is a good time.
“Your grace, O Lord, exalted the illumination of our souls! Here is the time to repent, let us cast away the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, so that, having crossed over a great fasting, we have achieved the three-day Resurrection of the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who saves our souls “(Sticheron in the evening on the first day of the Great Lent, Tone 4).
The sticheron that we sing today in the evening can be equated to the overture before the grand opera. The words of the sticheron set the tone for the whole Great Lent – joyful, inspired, energetic. This is as if we are going on a journey, though it is not easy, but exciting and very necessary for us.
During this journey, everything is important – and prayer, and restraint, and humility, and alms, but its main motive will always be the light of joy. It is like salt that saves food and adds to her taste. “If salt drops, what salty it does? …”. Christianity without joy is suspicious and dangerous because it instantly becomes an ideology of spiritual perfection and perfection of all around. A joy draws our hearts to the Source, it gives meaning, fills up, because it is associated with love, not with the fulfilment of the duty.
Often, the Fast is said to be a special time, a time of intensified spiritual achievement. However, such an explanation is not clear enough to understand its essence. It is important to understand that Fast is an icon and an image that teaches us something very important, sets and leads to a deeper understanding of reality.
The fast is called a favourable time because it relates not only to a certain fragment of our lives – these several weeks of the year, it is related to our whole Christian life. The Great Lent, by the words of the holy fathers, is a “mode of life”, a symbol of the earthly life of man.
In the sticheron, the fasting is also called the time of repentance. Repentance is not only the acknowledgement of your faults but the pity for your sins and the apology of God for them (though these are important aspects of it). First of all, repentance is a change of view on God and the world, the change of reference points, the change of the system of values. In the Gospel, at the very beginning, it is said about repentance as a certain requirement in view of the approaching of the Kingdom of Heaven. Repentance challenges us: how seriously we are treating God and things in the world. Check your priorities, check your habits. Where do they lead us, where do we travel, to what purpose?
“Let us cast away the works of darkness and put on the armour of light” (Romans 13:12) – this is repentance. Determine that we are children of light, not darkness, that we accept God’s initiative to save and renew our lives that’s why we leave those actions, those habits that destroy us and lead us in the opposite direction. Fast reminds us that the Lord is the Master of our lives and not our passions, ambitions, “idols” that we have established – power, influence, popularity or wealth.
The worship teaches us that the purpose of the great path is Easter. And it’s not just about waiting for Easter, which is at the end of the Fast. The main thing is that our whole life must lead us to the “Resurrection of the Lord and our Savior, Jesus Christ,” to the fullness of the new life of the Risen One, to a new creation. Thus, the Fast is an annual opportunity to remind and realize that every time in our lives is favourable to change everything for the better, to meet with ourselves, our neighbour and the Lord who overcame death.
Author: Maksym Tymo