Great Lent - Our Journey To Pascha
by Deacon Danial Doss
Lent is a spiritual journey that ends with Easter, the Feast of Feasts. Therefore,
let us try to understand the connection between Lent and Easter.
On Easter we celebrate Christ's resurrection, the death of death,
and the beginning of a new and eternal life. Through Jesus' death, the very nature of
death changed and made it a passage - a "passover", a "Pascha" into the Kingdom of God.
He made us partakers of His resurrection.
However, because of our weakness, we do not live constantly in the new
life; we do not seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. We simply, in our
busy life and our laziness, forget all this. We fail and we sin. Our life becomes
"old" again and dark and our journey through life becomes meaningless with a meaningless
end. We live as if Christ never came or as if He did not rise from the dead.
Then here comes the Orthodox Tradition of the Church in its liturgical
cycle and services that exist to help us recover the vision and taste of the new life
which we so easily lose and betray. The "old" man in every one of us, that of sin, is
not easily overcome and changed. This requires an effort from us, of which we in the
present state are virtually incapable. The world through all its media says - be happy,
take it easy, follow the broad way. Christ, on the other hand, says - choose the narrow
way, fight and suffer, for this is the road to the only genuine happiness.
This is where Great Lent comes in and this is where the Orthodox
Church, the school of repentance, can help. In the early church, Lent was used to
prepare the "catechumen", i.e., the new converts for baptism, which was performed during
the Paschal Liturgy. For us, who have been baptized, we constantly lose and betray the
baptism that we received. Easter is our return every year to our own baptism and Lent is
our preparation for that return - our "passage" or "Pascha" into the new life in Christ.
For each year, Lent and Easter are once again the rediscovery and the recovery by us of
what we were made through our own baptismal death and resurrection.
Yes, Lent is a journey. As we make the first step into it, we see
far, far away its destination - the joy of Easter - the entrance into the glory of the
Kingdom of God. (condensed from "Great Lent", by Fr. Schmemann)
If you have not started this journey with the Church yet, now is the
time to join. Do not miss this wonderful spiritual experience. Remember, there is no
glory without pain, no resurrection without the Cross, and no Easter without Lent. "If
indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified". (Rom. 8:17)