Lent Begins for Orthodox Christians

The Season of Lent starts today for Orthodox Christians.

The 40-day Great Lent, as it is called in the Orthodox culture, is one of the four principal many-day fasts. Lent is followed by the Passion Week, which is Lenten too - in commemoration of the last earthly days of Jesus Christ and his Sorrows.

Fast means not only giving up certain food, but also quitting all bad habits and entertainment. Any fast aims at exercising in abstinence, cleansing the soul of passions and sinful thoughts, and subjugating the body and the soul to the spirit.

That's why it's a sin to be angry or lose heart just as it is to drink wine or eat meat during the fast.

The Holy Fathers of the Church, when discoursing on the observance of bodily fasts, called themselves "not body-killers, but sin-killers." Since olden times in Russia seriously sick people, pregnant women, nursing mothers, warriors, workers of hard physical labor and travelers were allowed not to observe the fast.

As a rule, Orthodox believers dedicate one of the six Lenten weeks /more often, the first one/ to strict observance of Lent and regularly go to church, after which they confess and receive Communion on Saturday or Sunday.