By LINDA ANDRADE RODRIGUES
Standard-Times staff writer
March 08, 2008 6:00 AM
NEW BEDFORD — The parishioners of St. George Greek Orthodox Church will observe Great Lent Monday, which continues through Palm Sunday, April 20. Celebrated after the Jewish Passover, Greek Orthodox Easter, or Pascha, is Sunday, April 27, according to the Julian calendar.
The Service of the Great Compline will be conducted at 5 p.m. today and every Monday during Lent. At the conclusion of the service, the Very Rev. Constantine S. Bebis, pastor of St. George's, will offer a Lenten talk.
The Rev. Bebis said Lent is a sacred period of fasting, penitence and prayer, as well as a time for spiritual reflection.
"In the Greek language for Lent, we use the term Tessarakosti, meaning 40 days," he said. "The 40 days of the Lenten season recall our Lord's 40 days of temptation in the wilderness and the 40 years of temptations faced by the Israelites on the journey to the promised land. Thus, Lent is a period of 40 days dedicated to our spiritual preparation to observe and reach the Holy Passions Week of our Lord and celebration of our glorious Easter."
To the Greek Orthodox faithful, Lent is a time of spiritual uplifting, charity and repentance.
"In our very busy lives, the Lenten season provides us with daily habits and patterns so that we may pray more deeply, experience sorrow and repentance for what we have done or we have failed to do as Christians, and practice charity and generosity to those in need," he said. "Lent, therefore, is a time of soul-searching."
Parishioners also abstain from meat as an offering to Jesus Christ who performed the supreme sacrifice.
"The purpose of fasting is to make our physical appetites and desires our servant rather than our master, " the Rev. Bebis said.
St. John Chrysostom (347-407), who is counted among the Three Holy Hierarchs of the Greek Orthodox Church together with St. Basil the Great and St. Gregory the Theologian, offered the following instructions on fasting:
"Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works.
If you see a poor man, take pity on him.
If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him.
Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eye and the ear and the feet
and the hands and all the members of our bodies.
Let the hands fast, but being free of avarice.
Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin.
Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful.
Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk and gossip.
Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism.
For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes,
but bite and devour our brothers?
May He who came to the world to save sinners strengthen us to complete
the fast with humility, have mercy on us and save us."
Contact Linda Andrade Rodrigues at firstname.lastname@example.org