Over 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, including six million in North America, will enter the season of their Great and Holy Lent, the forty-day period of fasting and prayer that precedes Easter, beginning Monday, Feb. 23.
"We arrive again at the great and sacred season of Holy Lent. As Orthodox Christians we have been given the blessed opportunity to enter into an intense period of worship, prayer, fasting, and philanthropy that will direct our lives in the path of salvation and draw us into deeper communion with God. In addition, through our observance of Lent in our contemporary world, we will offer a witness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the one who overcomes the darkness of evil and sin and illumines hearts with truth and life,” the Orthodox Hierarchs stated in their encyclical for Sunday, February 22.
The Orthodox Christian Lent always begins on the Monday before the Sunday of Orthodoxy. Designated as “Clean Monday” and “The Monday of Cleansing or Purification,” Orthodox faithful begin a spiritual and moral purification through fasting, prayer, meditation, repentance, confession, communion and training.
Hundreds of thousands of Orthodox services have been specially planned for the first Sunday in Lent.
The Archbishop Demetrios, the spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America and Chairman of the Standing Conferene of Canonical Orthodox Bishops in the Americas (SCOBA),also plans to lead the other Hierarchs in the celebration of the Archiearchal Divine Liturgy, Sunday, Feb. 30. The Liturgy will be broadcast live from New York City, from 10 AM to 12 Noon via satellite, cable and internet.
Marking the end of Lent is Easter, April 11, which this year coincides with the Easter date of Western tradition.
For more information on the Orthodox Christian observance of Great Lent and Pascha, visit: http://www.greatlent.goarch.org