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Lent – a time of spiritual enlightenment and healing

БНР Новини
Photo: Darina Grigorova

Shrovetide is the last day before Lent, also known as Forgiveness Sunday. This is a day when all Orthodox Christians ask each other for forgiveness in the hope that they will receive absolution. Once, after Vespers, families used to get together and the young would humbly ask forgiveness of their elders and vice versa. This tradition has come down to us, bringing together divided families, and when distances separate them, they meet via the Internet to open up their hearts to forgiveness and love. According to the Christian Orthodox church, Lent is the most important time of fasting, because it prepares the Christian souls for the holiest of days – the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. That is why Lent is the strictest fast, so that the soul may dispense of all worldly cares and commune with God:

Photo: dveri.bg“I have seen for myself that more and more people have been turning to fasting,” says Father Dobromir Dimitrov from the St. Minas church in Veliko Turnovo. “Fasting is not some kind of diet, its aim is to get the better of our selfishness. We deprive ourselves of different pleasures, of expensive food, of amusements and entertainments so that we may stop “feeding” our ego. And in this way we show what the important things in life are. Lent is connected with repentance and that means changing our state of mind, our way of life. That is why its aim is to break the stereotype and look for the right direction. During Lent we should invoke the grace of God and when we realize we have taken the wrong turning, we should want to go back. That is repentance, and the money we have saved during Lent we should give to charity.”

Lent itself is the expectation of communion with the Lord through the Holy Writ. “Many people think the sacrament means purification,” Father Dobromir says further. “In fact the word “sacrament” means becoming part of something.” That is why we partake of the holy sacraments from the chalice which the priest brings out in front of the iconostasis in the hope we shall become part of Jesus Christ. The meaning of our prayers during divine service is to invoke the Holy Spirit to come down over the bread and wine and transform them into the body and the blood of Christ – the Eucharistia – which means “thanking”,” Father Dobromir explains. “We come together every Sunday to thank God and commune with Him. We live from each Sunday to the next, from one liturgy to the next, in constant communion with the Lord. When we eat and drink of the sacraments, we accept them for eternal life and absolution of our sins.”

“That is how we can withstand anything in life. When we cherish Jesus Christ in our hearts, nothing can frighten us – neither disease, nor problems, because we know God is with us. That is why the sacraments are the crown of Christian life. We go to church to accept the Lord and make him part of our life. When that happens, neither death, nor passion can harm us, because we have spiritual support in the Holy Sacrament to live as Christians. Christian Orthodoxy is not a religion, it is a way of life, a promise.”

To be deserving of the Eucharistia, during Lent, believers fight their sins and their selfishness with humility and repentance:

“Humility is a basic virtue. The Savior Himself was humble to his death. But what does humility mean – it comes when one realizes everything is a gift from the Lord. When we have humility we do not judge. But if we believe everything we have we have acquired by our own effort – that is the biggest delusion of pride. All our good qualities and our talents – they are a gift from God. Some multiply them a hundredfold, others – tenfold, but some bury them in the ground. Humility is being grateful for everything we have and when in need, setting our faith on God. Because He loved the world so much that at the Last Supper fell at the feet of man. This is the God we must trust to.”

English version: Milena Daynova

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