by Dn. Monsy Manimalethu Jacob, Boston
We Syriac Christians observe 50 days lent in preparation for the celebration of the resurrection of our Lord on Easter Sunday.
The word 'lent' is from the original word 'Lenten' or 'lengthen' which means, to spring, to rise, to bounce etc. You might have noticed a sprinter at the starting point, positioning himself with his head closer to the ground; a cat does the same thing focusing its eyes on the prey, before the hunt. We are positioning ourselves for the joy and only hope of humanity; the resurrection of Our Lord. ('avanodu thullyam namakan nammepole avanayi') He became man to make us gods.
"I said You are gods. And all of you are the children of the most High." Psalms 82: 6
He is the Lord of lords and the King of kings. So we need to become kings and lords. He did not become man to make bad people good, (or save the good from the bad) but to make dead people alive, and to convert slaves to kings and lords. If you are a sinner you have a chance for life and kingship through His blood, but if you think you are righteous, you don't need Him and He can't help you. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us. 1 John 1: 8-10.
We call these days of preparation 'nombu', from the mount of nebo, in the valley of which our fathers wept for 30 days after the death of Moses. In Malayalam we have a similar word 'upavasam', meaning 'living with'.
As we know, we have three parts; the primate man, the fleshly man and the spiritual man. In these days we have all the means to satisfy the needs of our flesh, we let it grow disproportional and the flesh takes over the spirit. The spiritual man shrinks and become dormant. When our resources to nourish the flesh diminishes by debts, job loss etc, the flesh with all its pride and ego make us depressed or even lead us to suicide. He will never allow the spiritual-man grow. In lent we take control of the flesh by shrinking it through limiting its nourishment and make the spiritual man grow; 1Corinth 9:27 'But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself would become disqualified.' (If we do not do it ourselves then our creator may subject us do it in His own ways)
Our prayer is, "ninte ruchikalal ngangal lokaruchikale nirasikumarakename" ie, by tasting You; grant us the grace of refusing the earthly tastes. The importance is for forgiving and reconciliation.
The guidelines for lent is given in Isaiah 58.
Let your soul be mixed with the holy angels during this lent.
Isaiah 58 - True
Includes Matthew Henry's Commentary and John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on Isaiah 58. Isaiah 58 tells about a true lent or fasting that is pleasing to our Lord.
during The Holy Lent for Orthodox Christians
We Orthodox Christians, in obedience to the words of our Divine Savior, and in imitation of the saints, set aside a period of intense fasting and prayer in order to purify our spiritual senses so we may see the Holy Resurrection.