What I Learned From This Year’s Great Lent During The Coronavirus Lockdown

sunset shining over clouds

Reading a friend’s experience of Great Lent this year and his experience of Pascha (that was this past Sunday for us Orthodox Christians), I could relate.

I answered him with my own experience:

Definitely felt depleted in the midnight service when the Light of Christ came out. It was not close to being the same as experiencing it in person. I also realized what a terribly weak and slothful Christian I am throughout this Great Lent and even Holy Week. I believe it was a test for all of us this season, and I’m thinking I may have just crawled over the finish line, dragging myself along.

Having said that, I know that I learned a lot from this experience. To grow stronger, to work harder at keeping connected to Christ God, and to live with sober awareness of Him and focus on Him every day. It showed me, even more, how important He is in my life. How much more I need Him than ever before.

Out of every difficult time comes a lesson and a ray of light in those darker moments. God is good.

 

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It’s Easter for Some and Palm Sunday for Others

daffodils 3

This Great Lent has been the most difficult one since I became a practicing Orthodox Christian in 1996. The routine of fasting, almsgiving, attending church services, and prayer were and have been incredibly disrupted for my family and me.

I don’t think any of us was prepared for this pandemic and what strict steps would be taken to keep us all as healthy and safe as we could be.

As each week passed by, with more and more distancing from my church and problems with keeping the fast, it has caused my faith and practices to be shaken, and feelings of sadness and anger visited me too often.

Fellow Christians understand the need to gather together to worship God, but I believe, as one of the priests in my church said in one of his homilies, the liturgy is to be lived, and we are to participate in the service and unite with Christ, who gives us life, forgives or sins, and grants us strength through His Holy Body and Blood. But these encounters were not and cannot be accomplished this Paschal year.

And well… without having this Life-Giving Mystery for so many weeks, I’ve struggled with keeping focused during Lent, even with reading spiritual books, watching my church’s livestream services, and keeping up with nightly prayers and prayers before meals.

My spiritual father always told me throughout the years that during Lent, just add one small discipline to my daily Orthodox Christian practice. So, I did continue to do this for this year’s Great Lent. I made sure to do my morning prayers and tried to remember to have a sip of holy water afterwards. I’ve managed to do pretty well with this so far.

Therefore, I suppose I’ve made some effort. Although I feel crushed and beaten by the enemy this lenten season, I know God only asks for us to make an effort. He’s so merciful.

Today is Palm Sunday for us Orthodox Christians, while it is Easter for my fellow Christians.

I wish my friends a Happy Easter. While we’re all confined to our homes at the most holy time of the year, I pray your day is full of joy and God’s blessings.

To my Orthodox Christian brethren, I wish you a blessed Holy Week, where we can somehow join Christ’s grueling journey to Golgotha and witness His Crucifixion and Resurrection with palpable sorrow and joy.  God be with you all.

 

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