As Iron Sharpens Iron

An ongoing and online discussion between: an Orthodox informed Ecumaniac without a denominational home, an ordained Baptist youth pastor with an open mind, a Calvinist worship leader/seminarian with a staggering vocabulary and ability to make a point, and a cradle Catholic with a love/hate relationship to Rome.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Lenten Thoughts

Themes of Lent:
  • Israel (wandering for forty years in the desert, Deut 8:2,4),
  • Moses (who stayed on Mt Sinai for forty days and forty nights, Ex 24:18),
  • Elijah ( who walked for forty days and forty nights to Mt Horeb, 1 Kg 19:8) and
  • Christ (who fasted forty days and forty nights in the desert, Mt 4:1-2) must have exercised a predominant influence, but it is also possible that the fact was borne in mind that Christ lay forty hours in the tomb.
Now some have related the wonderful signs performed by our Saviour, and preached His eternal Godhead. And others have written of His being born in the flesh of the Virgin, and have proclaimed the festival of the holy passover, saying, 'Christ our Passover is sacrificed;' so that we, individually and collectively, and all the churches in the world may remember, as it is written, 'That Christ rose from the dead, of the seed of David, according to the Gospel.'

And let us not forget that which Paul delivered, declaring it to the Corinthians; I mean His resurrection, whereby 'He destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;' and raised us up together with Him, having loosed the bands of death, and vouchsafed a blessing instead of a curse, joy instead of grief, a feast instead of mourning, in this holy joy of Easter, which being continually in our hearts, we always rejoice, as
Paul commanded; 'We pray without ceasing; in everything we give thanks.'

So we are not remiss in giving notice of its seasons, as we have received from the Fathers. Again we write, again keeping to the apostolic traditions, we remind each other when we come together for prayer; and keeping the feast in common, with one mouth we truly give thanks to the Lord. Thus giving thanks unto Him, and being followers of the saints, 'we shall make our praise in the Lord all the day,' as the Psalmist says. So, when we rightly keep the feast, we shall be counted worthy of that joy which is in heaven.

We begin the fast of forty days on the 13th of the month Phamenoth (Mar.). After we have given ourselves to fasting in continued succession, let us begin the holy Paschal week on the 18th of the month Pharmuthi (April). Then resting on the 23rd of the same month Pharmuthi, and keeping the feast afterwards on the first of the week, on the 24th, let us add to these the seven weeks of the great Pentecost, wholly rejoicing and exulting in Christ Jesus our Lord, through Whom to the Father be glory and dominion in the Holy Ghost, for ever and ever. Amen.

The brethren which are with me salute you. Salute one another with a holy kiss.

- a quote from the second Festal Letter of the holy Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria (died 373)

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