The period just before Holy Week is called Lent. It is a time for reflection and self-evaluation. The Church guides the individual believer through this period by offering means of self-discipline and instruction.
Lent begins on the Monday following Poon Paregentan (Day of Great Living) and continues through the Friday before Palm Sunday. This year Great Lent begins on Monday, March 3 and ends on April 12. 2013.
During the 40-day period of Lent the believer is called to taper life down to the bare essentials. You should ask yourself what is really necessary to live? You’ll find that much of life is made up of excesses, which clutter our lives and our values. When tempted in the wilderness, our Lord Jesus reminds us that “One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Part of the Lenten journey involves “giving up” certain foods. In the Armenian Church you are called to abstain from all foods that come from animals. This includes all animal products, including flesh meats, milk & dairy items, eggs, fowl, poultry, fish, etc. – anything that comes from an animal! Also, the dietary rules do not change on the weekends or in the evenings.
Diet is only one small part of the Lent. Jesus instructs us, “It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but it is what comes out of the mouth that defiles.” (Matthew 15:11) In this spirit, the individual believer is asked to come to terms with his or her own person and inspect the content of his or her own character.
The Most Essential
Certainly, LOVE must be at the focus of your Lenten journey because it is the one ingredient of life that gives meaning and purpose to existence. Love is the necessity of life that needs to be cultivated and nurtured during Lent so that it becomes the main purpose of existence after the Lenten period. While abstinence and restrictions are one part of Lent, the greater task for the believer is to be in love and harmony with his or her family, friends and nature.
Even the church changes its outward appearance during Lent. The curtain is drawn across the altar to remind us that sin prevents us from truly enjoying God. Sin, simply stated, is “missing the mark” of perfection. Sin hinders us from being one with God. During the week, we offer different prayer services. One of the prayers we read is the “Havadov Khosdovanim” (= I Confess with Faith). St. Nersess Shnorhali, the 12th century Catholicos, wrote this set of 24 prayers and they are considered among the most powerful prayers in the Armenian Church. By following the services, practices and prayer life of the Armenian Church, the believer comes to find the most essential of life’s joys. Peace through God is understood and Lent becomes a prelude to true Christian existence.
Spice it up!
Try these great Lenten Recipes
40 Mouth Watering treats - from breakfast, lunch and dessert - all meatless, all Armodoxy Certified. TRY THEM