The week before Great Lent begins is known as Meat Fare because we abstain from all meat (however, all other foods (including fish) are permitted). On Monday, March 11, we begin the full fast. During the first week of the Fast (known as Pure Week or Clean Week) it is traditional to keep a total fast until after the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts on Wednesday, but those who intend to do a total fast should check first with their physician and their spiritual father. During the subsequent weeks of the Fast we abstain from meat, poultry, eggs, dairy, fish, wine, and olive oil Monday through Friday, with katalysis (a blessing) for wine and olive oil on Saturday and Sunday. If you need to modify the fast in any way, please check with your spiritual father.
During Great Lent, we will also be reading a short book together in preparation for the Pascha Book Study; the book we are using is called Laughing at the Devil; it’s by Laura Hall, and additional copies are now available at Christ the Lightgiver Bookstore. The book is part memoir and part commentary on the very first book ever written in English by a woman about the spiritual life (that book The Revelations of Divine Love is also available in an inexpensive edition at Christ the Lightgiver). That woman is Julian of Norwich, and Laura Hall, who is a Protestant, does a very good job of connecting Julian’s insights with contemporary issues. Here is the schedule that we will follow as we read through Dr Hall’s book together:
The Week of March 11 Introduction pgs 1-18
The Week of March 18 Time pgs 19-40
The Week of March 25 Truth pgs 41-60
The Week of April 1 Blood pgs 61-80
The Week of April 8 Bodies and The Postscript pgs 81-112
That will take us right up to Holy Week, and then we will be ready to get together starting on Bright Wednesday, May 1, and talk about everything that we’ve read.
There are three Saturdays of Souls each year during the Triodion and Great Lent. We have already observed one of those Saturdays; however, the same services will also be offered on March 23 and 30th. On those days, we offer Orthros at 7am and Divine Liturgy at 9am, and we pray for our departed family members and friends. We should all be able to make the services on at least one of those days, and those of us with children and grandchildren and godchildren need to make sure that those folks are present with us so that they will know how to remember us when we have departed this life.