Malankara World Journal - Christian Spirituality from an Orthodox Perspective
Malankara World Journal
Kothne Sunday, Great Lent Begins
Volume 6 No. 330 February 5, 2016
Foreword: Holy Lent - The Basics
This Sunday evening, we start on a Great Journey called Great Lent. Great Lent prepares us to participate in our Lord's passion - His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday; his serving the last supper on Pesho aka Maundy Thursday and giving us the new commandment of Love (by serving others); his trial, passion, crucifixion, death and burial on Good Friday; his visit and delivering the Gospel to the departed on Gospel Saturday; and finally, his victory over death by his resurrection on Easter Sunday. These are the most important events to Christians as Jesus did all these to save and redeem us. It was the reason Jesus came to the earth. So, we need to be prepared to participate in these events. Great Lent provides us the opportunity to examine ourselves, repent our sins, participate in the Holy Qurbana so that we will be ready to participate in the passion week services.

On the first day of the Great Lent, coming Monday, the Holy Church has a service called Shubkono. It is a reconciliation service. Before we do any thing we need to reconcile our differences with other people. Jesus Christ told us that when we go to temple or church and remember that we have something outstanding with our brothers or sisters, we should leave the gift we took to God in the temple and go to the brother/sister and reconcile the difference. Then come back to the temple and perform the reconciliation with God. Shubkono service allows us to do this precisely.

Unfortunately, when people think about Great Lent, they immediately think of fasting - avoiding meat and other prohibited items from our diet. We spend all our energy on fasting that we miss the most important part of the Lent. There are three important aspects for Lent. Like a three legged stool, when one of them breaks down the whole thing collapses. These are:

Fasting and
Alms giving (charity)

Fr. Ed Broom expanded these three lists to 10 action items. These are:

  • 1. Prayer.
  • 2. Reconciliation and Peace.
  • 3. Penance.
  • 4. The Bible, The Word of God.
  • 5. Almsgiving.
  • 6. The Three T's. Time, Talents and Treasures
  • 7. Joy.
  • 8. Mass (Qurbana) and Communion.
  • 9. Conquer Your Own Devil.
  • 10. Intercession.

If you notice, fasting is not in the list explicitly, but it is there in item 9. What I want to say is that if we just control our diet and miss others, our lent will be a giant failure. We will examine these issues of Christian life in the future issues of Malankara World Journal.

So, as we embark on the Great Lent, we have to start with our basics. Fr. Robert Barron explains it as follows:

At the beginning of baseball season, the coach has to bring his players back to basics. He has to remind them of the three-point stance, the mechanics of throwing, the timing of a swing, the importance of keeping your eye on the ball, etc. It doesn't matter how great of a season a player had the year before. He has to begin spring training with the basics because before he can do spectacular things in a sport, he must make sure he is doing the simple and elemental things well.

The same is true in the spiritual life. Lent is a time to get tuned up, to get back to basics, to remember the fundamentals. This is why the Church asks us to look at the beginning of the book of Genesis, the story of the creation and the fall.

We've heard it often; it's probably emblazoned in our minds - but we need to hear it again: "The Lord God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being." On Ash Wednesday, we hear echoes of this in the words, "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return."

Today we are reminded that our lives come from God. Our very existence comes from God. We are owed nothing. We have nothing coming to us. Every breath we take is a reminder of our dependency upon God; every beat of our heart is a reminder that God is the Lord.

As we begin our Lenten journey, let us take a few minutes to reflect on the reality that without God we are nothing and to give thanks that God loved us into being.

What a profound thought!

Dr. Jacob Mathew
Malankara World


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