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Traditionally, during the Great Fast, meat, fish, oil and dairy products are forbidden during the entire period, including Passion Week. On Saturdays and Sundays and certain feastdays, the Typikon may allow the use of oil, wine or even fish. The complete Lenten discipline may be found in many Orthodox resources.

We realize that in our times, many may find it difficult to keep the complete traditional Lenten fasting rules. Therefore, out of pastoral sensitivity, we offer the following minimal requirements to be observed by all the faithful of our Metropolia. Those of a stronger discipline are encouraged to follow the traditional observance to the best of their abilities, according to their state in life.

The faithful are required to abstain from meat on each Wednesday and Friday of Great Lent. On the first day of Lent (Feb. 19), as well as on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of Passion Week (April 6 & 7), the use of meat, eggs and dairy products is forbidden.

The rules of abstinence are to be observed by all who have completed their 14th. year until they have completed their 60th. year. Those younger or older are encouraged to keep the rules of abstinence if at all possible.

Those who are of advanced age or suffer from any infirmity to which the rules of abstinence would not be conducive or even harmful, are not bound by these rules. When in question, one should always consult with their pastor for guidance in observing the rules of abstinence.

The normal Eucharistic fast applies to those who receive communion at Saturday or Sunday Divine Liturgies during Great Lent, as well as other Eucharistic services celebrated in the morning, such as the Divine Liturgies of St. Basil during Passion Week or a possible morning Presanctified. This means that no meals are to be taken after midnight.

Those who intend to partake of the Eucharist at an evening Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, should keep a minimal fast of at least three (3) hours, prior to the beginning of the service.

The faithful are encouraged to fast from meals and particular foods on other days, in accordance with their ability and personal spiritual life. Again, in the event of any question or doubt, one should consult their local pastor or spiritual director.

The Divine Liturgies of St. John Chrysostom and St. Basil the Great are not to be celebrated on all weekdays of Great Lent and on the first three days of Passion Week.

The Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is the normal Lenten communion service and must be celebrated in all parishes at least once a week during this time. The Typikon perscribes its celebration on each Wednesday and Friday of Great Lent, the Thursday of the Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete (4th. Thursday of Lent) as well as on the first three days of Passion Week.

The Presanctified Liturgy is also prescribed on the feastdays of the Finding of the Head of St. John the Baptist (Feb. 24/March9) and the 40 Martyrs of Sebaste (March 9/22), with the reading of an epistle and Gospel, should these feasts fall on a Lenten weekday. According to the Julian Calendar, in 2007, these two feasts fall on days on which the Liturgy is already prescribed.

The second, third and fourth Saturdays of Lent (March 3, 10, 17) are "All Souls' Saturdays." The Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom should be celebrated, followed by a Panakhyda with the reading of the names of the faithful departed. This is called in our tradition, the "Hramoty" or "Sorokustyj."

The Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great is celebrated on the five Sundays of Great Lent. On Palm Sunday, the Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom is celebrated.

Other traditional Lenten services which are part of our liturgical heritage should be celebrated in accordance with parish custom and the convenience of the faithful. These include, but are not limited to, the Lenten Hours, the Moleben to Jesus Christ, the Akathist Hymn to the Mother of God, the Supplication and the Pasia service.

The Annunciation & Great Saturday
According to the Julian Calendar, this year the Feast of the Annunciation (March 25/April7) falls on the Saturday of Passion Week. The texts for the Annunciation are incorporated into the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great with Vespers, according to the rules of the Typikon (Ustav). More instructions will follow, in the forthcoming liturgical instructions for Passion Week.

(To be recited at the conclusion of Vespers on Cheesefare Sunday evening)

O Lord Jesus Christ our God, hope of all on land and of those far away at sea, you have established these holy days of fasting by Your law and the prophets, as a way for our mortification and repentance. At the proper time, You manifested Yourself in the flesh on this earth, and by Your fast of forty days and nights, You sanctified the practice of fasting and commanded us to follow Your example. As a merciful and gracious God, enable us to begin these holy days of the Great Fast with perfect repentance, with humility instead of hypocrisy, with fervent prayer, with hunger and thirst, with frequent prostrations, and with a contrite heart. Enable us also to complete this time of the Great Fast without fault and with a pure conscience, keeping our faith intact and achieving victory over sin. Send us an angel of peace to watch over our lives, to protect us from all snares of our enemies, and to assist us in the performance of good deeds. Strengthen us by Your power so that we may accomplish the spiritual works of the Great Fast. Then, with our passions in control and our souls and bodies properly cleansed, we will be worthy to partake, without condemnation, of Your most pure Body and Your most precious and life-giving Blood. For You are the merciful and gracious Lover of Humankind, who came down to earth to save all; and we give glory to You and Your Eternal Father and Your all-holy gracious, and life-giving Spirit, now and ever, and forever. Amen.


(To be recited before the Dismissal of Vespers on Great Friday evening)

O Lord Jesus Christ our God, we thank You and magnify You, our Savior and benefactor, for having deigned us, Your unworthy servants, to live through the honorable and divine time of the Fast; to attain to the resurrection of Your friend Lazarus from his grave of four days and to Your triumphant entry on a donkey's colt into Jerusalem; to follow the example of the Hebrew children welcoming you with palms and crying out: "Hosanna in the highest;" to behold Your most holy and salutary passion; to venerate Your divine crucifixion and Your burial according to the flesh; and to attain to Your all glorious and radiant resurrection. Now humbly prostrated, we diligently entreat You for these Your servants who have hastened to Your holy temple. Receive their confession and repentance as You accepted the yearning of the Publican and for the sake of Your holy, third-day resurrection, forgive them all their sins, voluntary and involuntary. Cleanse them as You did the repentant adulteress and receive them as You received Peter, who having denied you, wept bitterly. Place Your fear into their hearts, that they may revere You and love You whole-heartedly, and walk according to Your will. Grant them to partake, without condemnation, of Your most sacred Body and Your precious Blood, that they may be considered to be worthy participants in Your heavenly kingdom with all the saints. For You are our God of mercy and salvation, and we render glory and thanksgiving, honor and adoration to You, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, now and ever and forever. Amen.

Promulgated for use. Great Lent, 2007 Р. Б.

Go to Lenten Letter 2007