The Great Lent: The Journey to the Bosom of the Father

(jesus_christ)christ_the_teacher-002.jpgThe Church has a strong program during this fast put by the ‎Fathers
through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, which became to ‎the soul a
source of survival and spiritual filling, and to the Church ‎a source
of communal repentance and deep fellowship with the ‎Lord Jesus Christ
in His fast…for Christ fasted for us and with us– ‎and certainly He is
a partner with each fasting soul.‎

The monks used to take this
opportunity of the holy fast to ‎leave their monasteries to the
wilderness in solitude and in the ‎fullness of the company of the Lord
Jesus and the fellowship of ‎His Holy Spirit. At the end of Lent they
returned to their ‎monasteries (as was recorded for us in the story of
Saint Mary the ‎Egyptian and her meeting with Saint Zosima the priest).‎

addition, the Church considered the Great Lent a ‎dedication program
for the teaching of catechumens who were ‎admitted to the faith, and
who at Easter were baptized in the name ‎of the Holy Trinity-that is
they were buried and resurrected with ‎Christ. The procession which the
Church conducts, these days for ‎the newly baptized baby was in the
past the procession of ‎Resurrection which the catechumens experienced
at their baptism ‎and resurrection in the Lord at Easter.‎

days the Church as a body practices absolute ‎abstention, daily
liturgies, the life of repentance and contrition ‎before God. We can
find through meditation on the Sunday ‎readings a strong spiritual
program for every soul, which may be ‎titled, “The Journey to the Bosom
of the Father.” ‎

The journey starts in a frank and clear
invitation in the gospel ‎of the preparation Sunday for the entry into
the closet for a ‎dialogue with the Father.

‎1. Preparation Sunday (Matt. 6:1-8)

you pray enter into your closet,…shut your door, ‎pray to your Father
which is in secret….” Also if you give alms or ‎fast that also should
be to the Father in secret….

The Point of Departure of the Journey

Church declares to us that the closet is the point of ‎departure of the
journey of Lent.  If it does not start at the closet ‎then the journey
of our fast has deviated from its true course. The ‎fact that the
Church starts the fast by directing us to the closet ‎means that the
fast is not only related to the flesh but it is related ‎more to the
spirit and to Kingdom of God.‎ ‎ The week of ‎preparation is the week
of the closet.

Close Your Door

The journey starts after
closing the door-the door that looks ‎at the world. Then there opens
before us another door that faces ‎heaven, “Our father who art in
heaven”, “I looked, and, behold a ‎door was opened in heaven.” (Rev
4:1) “Fasting is not a fetter or a ‎prison to the senses but a soaring
without hindrance towards ‎contemplation of God.”

‎ Pray to your Father

Church has set a standard to the level of faith of the ‎catechumens
before they are allowed to receive the Sacrament of ‎Baptism. The
standard is the church continues teaching the ‎catechumens about the
Lord’s prayer, starts with “Our Father….”, ‎and at the moment they
perceive and comprehend the paternity of ‎God to them, they are
entitled to receive the Sacrament of Baptism.

Your Father Who Sees in Secret

is the secret of the prayer of the closet which the Church ‎perceived
so allotted to it the deepest of prayers like the prayer of ‎the five
wise virgins awaiting the coming of the Bridegroom, and ‎the prayer of
the fallen won feet of the Lord Jesus (Prayer of the ‎closet of
“Matins”). Where in the closet we discover our sins…and ‎we hold the
feet of the Lord to free our feet the prodigal road, and ‎we taste the
love of God, and learn contrition, and thus the goal of ‎the journey of
our fast becomes the withdrawal of the soul into ‎itself (in secret)
where the Lord purifies it with His blood and ‎dedicates her a temple
for Him and adorns her with His talents so ‎that she may participate
with the wise virgins in the meeting of the ‎Bridegroom.‎
the journey is with the soul, it should be done in secret. ‎The
relationship between the human soul and Christ, is an invisible
‎relationship that begins in the chamber. So fasting is accompanied ‎by
a reduction in talking and visits and by concentrating on ‎spiritual
readings and attending the Divine Liturgy.‎

‎Brother, our
Heavenly Father is calling you to a holy ‎participation with Him in
secret, through which you may start your ‎fast, your prayers, and your
almsgivings.  So beware of negligence.‎
Practice: The practice in
the week of preparation is the ‎prayer of the chamber and the worship
in secret which will ‎continue with us all through after the period of

‎2. Surrender of Life to the Heavenly Father: (Matt. 6:24-34)

gospel of the first Sunday of Lent calls for the surrender ‎of life to
the Father. “Take no thought for your life, what you shall ‎eat…nor
yet for the body, what you shall wear….do not worry ‎about tomorrow.”
The reason for not worrying is that “your ‎heavenly Father knows that
you have of all these things.” (Matt. ‎‎6:32).

The practice of
this week is a call to a secure life in the care ‎of the Father and the
carrying out of what comes in the verse, “Do ‎not worry about
tomorrow,” physically, mentally and spiritually.

The Christian
commandment is full of risks but its assurance ‎is the care of the
Father.  The woman who gave the two mites was ‎risking her meal. During
the fast, Satan wages his war by ‎convincing us that we are risking the
necessities of the body and ‎causes us to worry about our health.
Likewise, in charity, there is a ‎risk of wealth.‎

In this week, we experience the complete surrender to the ‎care of the Father and to His commandment.‎

‎3. Why does God forget us if He is our Father? (Matt. 4: 1-10)

gospel of the Second Sunday deals with the temptation ‎of doubting
God’s paternity to us, “If you are the son of God-why ‎does He leave
you hungry? Why does God allow the presence of ‎disease, failure and
the death of our beloved?”

Practice: It is our duty this week to
examine our faith in the ‎love of the Father who gave His Son for us. 
Our faith should ‎surpass all temptations and emotions.  Faith in the
Father should be ‎a faith that fortifies us against the temptation of
the Adversary, the ‎hardships of this world and the sufferings and
desires of the body.

‎4. Repentance in the Father’s bosom (Luke 15:11-32)‎

in Christianity is different from any other ‎repentance; it is the
return of the son to his Father and the Father ‎falling on the neck of
His son to embrace him and kiss him (Luke ‎‎15:20). This is the gospel
of the third Sunday.‎

The Father’s paternity to us is not because
of our ‎righteousness, but because of His paternity to his children,
‎especially the sinners.‎

The Father’s paternity for us
challenges all our sins, our ‎failures, our betrayal of His love and
our mistreatment of His ‎name.‎

Practice: Brother, do not
permit this week to go by without a ‎true repentance and resorting to
the Father’s embrace….Examine ‎this in your chamber and taste the
Father’s embrace and His kisses ‎which are reserved only for those who
repent. This is the week of ‎repentance in the Father’s bosom, the
repentance of the whole ‎Church…the communal repentance.‎

‎5. Worship of the Father in Spirit and in Truth (John 4:1-42) ‎

next step after repentance is worship of the Father Who ‎accepted and
loved me and cleansed me from my sins and put me ‎in His bosom. 
Contrition of the spirit and submission to the Father ‎and the love of
frequent prostrations in worship are the expressions ‎of our love for
Him who opened His arms for us sinners and kissed ‎us. This is the end
of the road of repentance in the Father’s bosom, ‎and this is the
sweetest fruit of the chamber and which the Father ‎gives us in secret.‎

Church, inspired by the Spirit, stresses in the period of ‎Lent the use
of prostrations during private prayers and in the ‎Divine Liturgy (At
the Offering of Incense after the readings of the ‎prophets).‎

The practice of this week is to worship the Father in spirit and ‎truth “for such the Father seeks to worship Him.” (John 4:23)‎

‎6. Bethesda and Baptism (John 5:1-18)‎

Gospel of the fifth Sunday talks about Bethesda which ‎symbolizes
Baptism. We, the crowds of Christians, were beside it ‎sick, lame,
blind and paralyzed; suffering every spiritual sickness. ‎The Angel
that moves the water symbolizes the Holy Spirit which ‎comes down on
the water of Baptism.‎

This is our share in Christ: those who are baptized have ever ‎in the Father even if they have been sick for 38 years.‎

practice of this week is to hope and never to despair—‎Baptism has
given us the grace of sonship and children are never ‎disappointed in
their hopes in the love of the Father.‎

‎7. Sonship is a Spiritual Enlightenment (John 9:1-41)‎

The last Sunday in Lent is the Sunday of Baptism, during ‎which we read the gospel of the man born blind.‎

“I was blind and now I see.” This is our everlasting ‎experience as
children of the Heavenly Father. We were blind and ‎He opened our sight
so we beheld miracles of His laws and we saw ‎what the prophets longed
to see, and He gave us understanding of ‎the Scriptures.‎

Baptism means washing (in the pool of Siloam), so we ‎become pure.
Repentance is a continuous washing, so we may see ‎clearly. Repentance
is a continuation of Baptism and it is the ‎means through which we can
see Christ clearly all our life. Lasting ‎repentance cleans our heart,
renews the intellect, protects the ‎contrite soul in the obedience of
the Father, and through ‎repentance, we can discover all the graces and
secrets of the ‎Heavenly Father.‎

8. The Kingdom of the Beloved Son (Mt. 21:1-17; Mk. 11:1-11; ‎Lk. 19:29-48; Jn. 12:12-19)‎

week begins with the entrance of Christ to rule ‎Jerusalem, riding on a
donkey and ends by Him ruling from the ‎Cross on Calvary where He draws
all to Him—all the children to ‎rule with Him in the Kingdom of His

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