Great Lent, march towards Easter

Lent

Lent is a journey, a movement and a journey. No liturgical period of our Holy Church is characterized by its stagnation. Some may experience the festive season as stagnation and this is due to our own spiritual condition, that we have been deprived of the grace of the Holy Spirit resulting in spiritual death.

On the contrary, Lent, like any festive period, is a dynamic movement and a journey that has a beginning, a middle and an end. It begins on Shrove Monday, the middle is the Sunday of the Crucifixion and its end is just before the Sunday of the crucifixion (Friday before Lazarus).

Ὅταν κάποιος ξεκινάει γιὰ ταξνα ταξίδι θὰ πρέπει νὰ ξέρει ποῦ πηγαίνει. Αὐτὸ συμβαίνει καὶ μὲ τὴ Μεγάλη Σαρακοστή. Πάνω ἀπ᾿ ὅλα ἡ Μεγάλη Σαρακοστὴ εἶναι ἕνα πνευματικὸ ταξίδι ποὺ προορισμός του εἶναι τὸ Πάσχα, Ἑ Ἑορτὴ Ἑορτῶν ». Εἶναι ἡ προετοιμασία γιὰ τὴν «πλήρωση τοῦ Πάσχα, ποὺ εἶναι ἡ πραγματικὴ Ἀποκάλυψη». Γιὰ τὸ λόγο αὐτὸ θὰ πρέπει νὰ ἀρχίσουμε μὲ τὴν προσπάθεια νὰ καταλάβουμε αὐτὴ τὴ σχέση ποὺ ὑπάρχει ἀνάμεσα στὴ Σαρακοστὴ καὶ τὸ Πάσχα, γιατὶ αὐτὴ ἀποκαλύει κάτι πολὺ οὐσιαστικὸ καὶ πολὺ σημαντικὸ γιὰ τὴ Χριστιανικὴ πίστη καὶ ζωή.

Ἄραγε εἶναι ἀπαραίτητο νὰ ἐξηγήσουμε ὅτι τὸ Πάσχα εἶναι κάτι πολὺ περισσότερο ἀπὸ μία γιορτή, πολὺ πέρα ἀπὸ μία ἐτήσια ἀνάμνηση ἑνὸς γεγονότος ποὺ πέρασε; ⁇ Καθένας πού, ἔστω καὶ μία μόνο φορά, ἔζησε αὐτὴ τὴ νύχτα «τὴ σωτήριο, τὴ φωταυγὴ καὶ λαμπροφόρο», ποὺ γεύτηκε ἐκείνη τὴ μοναδικὴ χαρά, τὸ ξέρει αὐτό.

Ἀλλὰ τί εἶναι αὐτὴ ἡ χαρὰ; Why do we pray in the resurrection liturgy: νῦν πάντα πεπλήρωται φωτός, οὐρανός τε καὶ γῆ καὶ τὰ καταχθόνια »? Μὲ ποιὰ ἔννοια ἑορτάζομεν »- καθὼς ἰσχυριζόμαστε ὅτι τὸ κάνουν – θανάτου τὴν νέκρωσιν, Ἅδου τὴν καθαίρεσιν ἄλλης βιοτῆς τῆς αἰωνίου ἀπαρχήν …;

Σὲ ὅλες αὐτὲς τὶς ἐρωτήσεις ἡ ἀπάντηση εἶναι: ἡ νέα ζωὴ ἡ ὁποία πρὶν ἀπὸ δυὸ χιλιάδες περίπου χρόνια ἀνέτειλεν ἐκ τοῦ τάφου » Μᾶς δόθηκε τὴ μέρα ποὺ βαφτιστήκαμε, τὴ μέρα δηλαδὴ ποὺ ὅπως λέει ὁ Ἀπ. Paul:.

Ἔτσι τὸ Πάσχα πανηγυρίζουμε τὴν Ἀνάσταση τοῦ Χριστοῦ σὰν γεγονὸς ποὺ ἔγινε καὶ ἀκόμη γίνεται σὲ μᾶς. Γιατὶ ὁ καθένας ἀπὸ μᾶς ἔλαβε τὸ δῶρο αὐτῆς τῆς νέας ζωῆς καὶ τὴ δύναμη νὰ τὴν ἀποδεχτεῖ καὶ νὰ ζήσει διὰ μέσου της. Εἶναι ἕνα δῶρο ποὺ ριζικὰ ἀλλάζει τὴ διάθεσή μας ἀπέναντι σὲ κάθε κατάσταση αὐτοῦ τοῦ κόσμου, ἀκόμη καὶ ἀπέναντι στὸ θάνατο. Μᾶς gives τὴ δύναμη νὰ ἐπιβεβαιώνουμε θριαμβευτικὰ τό: νικήθηκε ὁ θάνατος ». Φυσικὰ ὑπάρχει ἀκόμα ὁ θάνατος, εἶναι σίγουρος, τὸν ἀντιμετωπίζουμε, καὶ κάποια μέρα θὰ ἔρθει καὶ γιὰ μᾶς. Ἀλλὰ ὅλη ἡ πίστη μας εἶναι .τι μὲ τὸ δικό Του θάνατο ὁ Χριστὸς ἄλλαξε τὴ φύση ἀκριβῶς τοῦ θανάτου. Τὸν ἔκανε πέρασμα – διάβαι », Πάσχα» – στὴ Βασιλεία τοῦ Θεοῦ μεταμορώνοντας τὴ δραματικότερη τραγωδία σὲ αἰώνιο θρίαμβο, σὲ νίκη. Μὲ τὸ θανάτῳ θάνατον πατήσας », μᾶς ἔκανε μέτοχους τῆς Ἀνάστασής Του. Ἀκριβῶς γι αὐτὸ στὸ τέλος τοῦ ὄρθρου τῆς Ἀνάστασης – στὸν Κατηχητικὸ Λόγο τοῦ Ἰωάννου Χρυσοστόμου – λέμε θριαμβευτικά: Ἀνέστη Χριστός, καὶ ζωὴ πολιτεύεται. Ἀνέστη Χριστός, καὶ νεκρὸς οὐδεὶς ἐν τῷ μνήματι ».

Τέτοια εἶναι ἡ πίστη τῆς Ἐκκλησίας ποὺ ἐπιβεβαιίνεται καὶ φανερώνεται μὲ τὴ ζωὴ τῶν ἀναρίθμητων ἁγίων της. Ἀλλὰ μήπως δὲ ζοῦμε βράδυὰ τὸ γεγονὸς ὅτι αὐτὴ ἡ πίστη σπάνια γίνεται καὶ δική μας ἐμπειρία; Μήπως δὲ χάνουμε πολὺ συχνὰ καὶ δὲν προδίνουμε αὐτὴ τὴ νέα ζωὴ ποὺ λάβαμε σὰν δῶρο, καὶ στὴν κατάσταση ζοῦμε σὰν νὰ μὴν ἀναστήθηκε ὁ Χριστὸς καὶ σὰν νὰ μὴν ἔχει νόημα γιὰ μᾶς αὐτὸ τὸ μοναδικὸ γεγονὸς; Καὶ ὅλα αὐτὰ ἐξαιτίας τῆς ἀδυναμίας μας, τῆς ἀνκανότητάς μας νὰ ζοῦμε σταθερὰ μὲ πίστη ἐλπίδα καὶ ἀγάπη », στὸ ἐπίπεδο ἐκεῖνο ποὺ μᾶς ἀνέβασε ὁ Χριστὸς ὅταν εἶπε: Ζητεῖτε πρώτον τὴν Θεῦν Ἁπλούστατα ἐμεῖς ξεχνᾶμε ὅλα αὐτὰ γιατὶ εἴμαστε τόσο ἀπασχολημένοι, τόσο βυθισμένοι στὶς μέρεςὲς ἔγνοιες μας καὶ ἀκριβῶς ἐπειδὴ ξεχνᾶμε, ἀποτυχαίνουμε. Μέσα σ αὐτὴ τὴ λησμοσύνη, τὴν ἀποτυχία καὶ τὴν ἁμαρτία ἡ ζωή μας γίνεται ξανὰ παλαιὰ », εὐτελής, σκοτεινὴ καὶ τελικὰ χωρὶς σημασία, γίνεται ἕνα χωρὶς νόημα ταξίδι γιὰ ἕνα χωρὶς νόημα τέρμα. Καταφέρνουμε νὰ ξεχνᾶμε ἀκόμα καὶ τὸ θάνατο καὶ τέλος, ἐντελῶς αἰφνιδιαστικά, μέσα στὶς «ἀπολαύσεις τῆς ζωῆς» μᾶς ἔρχεται τρομακτικός, ἀναπόφευκτος, παράλογος. Μπορεῖ κατὰ καιροὺς νὰ παραδεχόμαστε τὶς ποικίλες ἁμαρτίες μας καὶ νὰ τὶς ἐξομολογούμαστε, ὅμως ἐξακολουθοῦμε νὰ μὴν ἀναφέρουμε τὴ ζωή μας σ᾿ ἐκείνη τὴ νέα ζωὴ ποὺ ὁ Χριστὸς ἀποκάλυψε καὶ μᾶς ἔδωσε. Πραγματικὰ ζοῦμε σὰν νὰ μὴν ἦρθε ποτὲ Ἐκεῖνος. Αὐτὴ εἶναι ἡ μόνη πραγματικὴ ἁμαρτία, ἡ ἁμαρτία ὅλων τῶν ἁμαρτιῶν, ἡ ἀπύθμενη θλίψη καὶ τραγωδία ὅλων τῶν κατ᾿ ὄνομα χριστιανῶν.

Ἂν τὸ ἀναγνωρίζουμε αὐτό, τότε μποροῦμε νὰ καταλάβουμε τί εἶναι τὸ Πάσχα καὶ γιατὶ περισσότερα καὶ προϋποθέτει τὴ Μεγάλη Σαρακοστή. Γιατὶ τότε μποροῦμε νὰ καταλάβουμε ὅτι ἡ λειτουργικὴ παράδοση τῆς Ἐκκλησίας καὶ ὅλος ὁ κύκλος τῶν ἀκολουθιῶν της ὑπάρχουν, πρῶτα ἀπ᾿ ὅλα, γιὰ νὰ μᾶς βοήθειασουν νὰ ξαναβροῦμε τὸ ὅραμα καὶ τὴν γεύση αὐτῆς τὺς, νὰ μπορέσουμε νὰ μετανοήσουμε καὶ νὰ ξαναγυρίσουμε στὴν .κκλησία. Πῶς εἶναι δυνατὸν νὰ ἀγαπᾶμε καὶ νὰ ἐπιθυμοῦμε κάτι ποὺ δὲν τὸ ξέρουμε; Πῶς μποροῦμε ἂν βάλουμε πάνω ἀπὸ καθετὶ ἄλλο στὴ ζωή μας κάτι ποὺ ποτὲ δὲν ἔχουμε δεῖ καὶ δὲν ἔχουμε χαρεῖ; Μὲ λόγλλα λόγια: πῶς μποροῦμε, πῶς εἶναι δυνατὸν νὰ ἀναζητήσουμε μιὰ Βασιλεία γιὰ τὴν ὁποία δὲν ἔχουμε ἰδέα; Ἡ λατρεία τῆς Ἐκκλησίας ἦταν ἀπὸ τὴν ἀρχὴ καὶ εἶναι ἀκόμα καὶ τώρα ἡ εἴσοδος καὶ ἡ ἐπ se⁇ κονία μας μὲ τὴ νέα ζωὴ τῆς Βασιλείας. Μέσα ἀπὸ τὴ λειτουργική της ζωὴ Ἐ κληκκλησία μᾶς ἀποκαλύει ἐκεῖνα ποὺ ὀφθαλμὸς οὐκ οἶδε καὶ οὖς οὐκ ἤκουσε καὶ ἐπὶ καρδίαν ἀνθρώπου οὐκ ἀνέβη, ἃ ἡτοίμασεν ὁ Θεὸς τοῖς ἀγατό »». Καὶ στὸ κέντρο αὐτῆς τῆς λειτουργικῆς ζωῆς, σὰν καρδιά της καὶ μεσουράνημά της – σὰν⁇ λιος ποὺ οἱ ἀκτίνες του διαπερνοῦν καθετὶ – εἶναι τὸ Πάσχα. Τὸ Πάσχα εἶναι ἡ πόρτα, ἀνοιχτὴ κάθε χρόνο, ποὺ ὁδηγεῖ στὴν ὑπέρλαμπρη Βασιλεία τοῦ Χριστοῦ, εἶναι ἡ πρόγευση τῆς αἰώνιας χαρᾶς ποὺ μᾶς περιμένει, εἶναι ἡ δόξα τῆς νίκης ὸ τώρα πποία ἀπ ‘ ».

Ὁλόκληρη ἡ λατρεία τῆς Ἐκκλησίας εἶναι ὀργανωμένη γύρω ἀπὸ τὸ Πάσχα, γι᾿ αὐτὸ καὶ ὁ λειτουργικὸς χρόνο, δηλαδὴ ἡ διαδοχὴ τῶν ἐποχῶν καὶ τῶν ἑορτῶν, γίνεται ἕνα ταξίδι, ἕνα προσκύνημα στὸ Πάσαι! Εἶναι τὸ τέλος ὅλων αὐτῶν ποὺ ἀποτελοῦν τὰ παλαιὰ »καὶ ὴ ἀρχὴ τῆς« νέας ζωῆς », μιὰ συνεχὴς« διάβδο ἀπὸ τὸν «κόσμο τοῦτο» στὴν Βασιλεία ποὺ ἔχει ἀποκαλυφτεῖ ἐν Χριστῷ.

Παρ᾿ ὅλα αὐτὰ ἡ παλαιὰ »ζωή, ἡ ζωὴ τῆς ἁμαρτίας καὶ τῆς μικρότητας, δὲν εἶναι ε⁇ κολο νὰ ξεπεραστεῖ καὶ ν᾿ ἀλλάξει. Τὸ Εὐαγγέλιο περιμένει καὶ ζητάει ἀπὸ τὸν ἄνθρωπο νὰ κάνει μιὰ προσπάθεια. Ίαποία, στὴν κατάσταση ποὺ βρίσκεται τώρα ὁ θρωνθρωπος, εἶναι οὐσιαστικὰ ἀπραγματοποίητη. We are facing a challenge. Τὸ ὅραμα, ὁ στόχος, ὁ τρόπος τῆς νέας ζωῆς εἶναι γιὰ μᾶς μία πρόκληση ποὺ βρίσκεται τόσο πολὺ πάνω ἀπὸ τὶς δύνατητές μας!

Γι᾿ αὐτό, ἀκόμα καὶ οἱ στοπόστολοι, ὅταν ἄκουσαν τὴ διδασκαλία τοῦ Κυρίου Τὸν ρώτησαν ἀπελπισμένα: τὶς ἄρα δύναται σωθῆναι; (Matt. 19:26). Mp truth is not easy at n renounce a trivial ideal life made up the daily treatments, the recovery of material goods, the safety and enjoyment and accept another ideal life which of course does not lack any perfection in its purpose: ye τέλειοι ὡς ὁ Πατὴρ ἡμῶν ἐν οὐρανοῖς τέλειος ἐστίν. Αὐτὸ ὁ κόσμος μὲ ὅλα του τὰ μέσα »μᾶς λέει: νὰ εἶσαι χαρούμενος, μὴν ἀνησυχεῖς, ἀκολούθα τὸν« εὐρὺ »δρόμο. ⁇ Χριστὸς στὸ Εὐαγγέλιο λέει: διάλεξε τὸ στενὸ δρόμο, ἀγωνίσου καὶ ὑπόφερε, γιατὶ αὐτὸς εἶναι ὁ δρόμος γιὰ τὴ μόνη ἀληθινὴ εὐτυχία. Καὶ ἂν ἡ κληκκλησία δὲν βοηθάει πῶς θὰ μπορέσουμε νὰ κάνουν αὐτὴ τὴ φοβερὴ ἐκλογὴ; Πῶς μποροῦμε νὰ μετανοήσουμε καὶ νὰ ξαναγυρίσουμε στὴν ὑπέροχη ὑπόσχεση ποὺ μᾶς δίνεται κάθε χρόνο τὸ Πάσχα; Ἀκριβῶς αὐτὴ εἶναι ἡ στιγμὴ ποὺ ἐμφανίζεται ἡ Μεγάλη Σαρακοστή. Αὐτὴ εἶναι ἡ χείρα βοηθείας »ποὺ ἁπλώνει σὲ μᾶς ἡ Ἐκκλησία. Εἶναι τὸ σχολεῖο τῆς μετάνοιας ποὺ θὰ μᾶς δώσει δύναμη νὰ δεχτοῦμε τὸ Πάσχα ὄχι σὰν μιὰ ἁπλὴ εὐκαιρία νὰ φᾶμε, νὰ ποιοῦμε, ν᾿ ἀναπαυτοῦμε, ἀλλά, βασικά, σὰν τὸ τέλος τῶν «παλαιῶν» με μας μας ὺ εἶ μας .

Στὴν ἀρχαία Ἐκκλησία ὁ βασικὸς σκοπὸς τῆς Σαρακοστῆς ἦταν νὰ προετοιμαστοῦν οἱ Κατηχούμενοι, δηλαδὴ οἱ νέοι ὑποψηφιοι χριστιανοί, γιὰ τὸ βάπτισμα πού, ἐκεῖνο τὸν χρόνο, γίνονταν Λὴ διάρκεια τῆς. Ἀλλὰ ἀκόμα καὶ τώρα ποὺ Ἐ κληκκλησία δὲν βαφτίζει πιὰ τοὺς χριστιανοὺς σὲ μεγάλη ἡλικία καὶ ὁ θεσμὸς τῆς κατήχησης δὲν ὑπάρχει πιά, τὸ βασικὸ νόημα τῆς Σαρακοστῆς παραμένει τὸ .διο. For, ἂν καὶ εἴμαστε βαφτισμένοι, ἐκεῖνο ποὺ συνεχῶς χάνουμε καὶ προδίνουμε εἶναι ἀκριβῶς αὐτὸ ποὺ λάβαμε στὸ Βάπτισμα. Ἔτσι τὸ Πάσχα γιὰ μᾶς εἶναι ἡ ἐπιστροφή, ποὺ κάθε χρόνο κάνουν, στὸ βάπτισμά μας καὶ ἑπομένως ἡ Σαρακοστὴ εἶναι ἡ προετοιμασία μας γι᾿ αὐτὴ τὴν ἐπιστροφὴ – ἡ ἀργὴ ἀλλὰ ἐπίμονη προσπάθεια νὰ γεγονποιήσουμε τελικὰ τὴ » νέα ἐν Χριστῷ ζωή. Τὸ ,τι, καθὼς θὰ δοῦμε, οἱ ἀκολουθίες στὴ σαρακοτίεςνὴ λατρεία διατηροῦν ἀκόμα καὶ σήμερα τὸν κατηχητικὸ καὶ βαπτιστικὸ δημιουργρα, δὲν εἶναι γιατὶ διατηροῦνται «ἀρχαιολογικὰ» ἀπομεινάρια, ἀλλὰ εἶναι κάτι τὸ ζωήτικ. Γι αὐτὸ κάθε χρόνο ἡ Μεγάλη Σαρακοστὴ καὶ τὸ Πάσχα εἶναι, μιὰ ἀκόμα φορά, ἡ ἀνακάλυψη καὶ ἡ συνειδητοποίηση τοῦ τί γίναμε μὲ τὸν «διὰ βαπτίσματός» μας θάνατο καὶ τὴν ἀνάσταση.

A trip, a pilgrimage! Καθὼς τὸ ἀρχίζουμε, καθὼς κάνω τὸ πρῶτο βῆμα στὴ χαρμολύπη »τῆς Μεγάλης Σαρακοστῆς βλέπουμε – κοντά, πολὺ μακριὰ – τὸν παρουσία. Εἶναι ἡ χαρὰ τῆς Λαμπρῆς, εἶναι ἡ εἴσοδος στὴ δόξα τῆς Βασιλείας. Εἶναι αὐτὸ τὸ ὅραμα, ἡ πρόγευση τοῦ Πάσχα, ποὺ κάνει τὴ λύπη τῆς Μεγάλης Σαρακοστῆς χαρά, φῶς, καὶ τὴ δική μας προσπάθεια μιὰ πνευματικὴ ἄνοιξη ». ⁇ Գիշτα μπορεῖ νὰ εἶναι σκοτεινὴ καὶ μεγάλη, ἀλλὰ σὲ ὅλο τὸ μῆκος τοῦ δρόμου μιὰ μυστικὴ καὶ ἀκτινοβόλα αὐγὴ φαίνεται νὰ λάμπει στὸν ὁρίζοντα. Μὴ καταισχύνῃς ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ τῆς προσδοκίας ἡμῶν, Φιλάνθρωπε! ”

When one starts a journey one should know where one is going. This is also the case with Lent. Above all, Lent is a spiritual journey whose destination is Easter, the “Feast of Holidays”. It is the preparation for the “filling of the Passover, which is the true Revelation.” That is why we should start by trying to understand this relationship between Lent and Easter, because it reveals something very essential and very important for our Christian faith and life.

Is it necessary to explain that Easter is much more than a celebration, much more than an annual remembrance of an event that has passed? Everyone who, even once, lived this night “salvation, enlightenment and radiance”, who tasted that unique joy, knows this.

But what is this joy? Why do we sing in the resurrection liturgy: “now light is always filled, heaven and earth and the depths”? In what sense do we “celebrate” – as we claim to do so – “death necrosis, Hell the expulsion of another life of eternal beginning …”?

The answer to all these questions is: the new life which, about two thousand years ago, “rose from the grave,” was offered to us, to all those who believe in Christ. We were given the day we were baptized, that is, the day that as Ap. Paul: “… that we should be baptized unto death, that Christ should rise from the dead by the glory of the Father;

Thus at Easter we celebrate the Resurrection of Christ as an event that happened and still happens to us. Because each of us received the gift of this new life and the power to accept it and live through it. It is a gift that radically changes our mood in the face of any situation in this world, even in the face of death. It gives us the strength to triumphantly confirm that “death has been defeated.” Of course there is still death, it is certain, we face it, and one day it will come for us. But all our faith is that by His own death Christ changed the very nature of death. It made him pass – “passage”, Easter “- to the Kingdom of God, transforming the most dramatic tragedy into eternal triumph, into victory. By “death you trampled death”, he made us sharers of His Resurrection. That is why at the end of the orthography of the Resurrection – in the Catechism of John Chrysostom – we say triumphantly: “Christ is risen, and life is governed. Christ is risen, and no one is dead in memory. ”

Such is the faith of the Church that is confirmed and revealed by the life of its innumerable saints. But do we not live every day the fact that this faith rarely becomes our own experience? Do we not often lose and betray this new life we received as a gift, and in fact live as if Christ had not been resurrected and as if this unique event had no meaning for us? And all this because of our inability, our inability to live steadfastly with faith, hope and love, to the level that Christ raised us to when he said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” We simply forget all this because we are so busy, so immersed in our daily worries and just because we forget, we fail. In this forgetfulness, failure and sin, our life becomes “old” again, cheap, dark and finally meaningless, it becomes a meaningless journey for a meaningless end. We manage to forget even death and finally, completely unexpectedly, in the “pleasures of life” comes a scary, inevitable, irrational. We may at times admit our various sins and confess them, but we still do not refer our lives to that new life that Christ revealed and gave us. We really live as if He never came. This is the only real sin, the sin of all sins, the bottomless sorrow and tragedy of all named Christians.

If we recognize this, then we can understand what Easter is and why it is needed and presupposes Lent. Because then we can understand that the liturgical tradition of the Church and the whole cycle of its services exist, first of all, to help us rediscover the vision and the taste of this new life, which we so easily lose and betray, and then to we can repent and return to the Church. How is it possible to love and desire something we do not know? How can we put above everything else in our lives something we have never seen and are not happy about? In other words: how can we, how is it possible to seek a Kingdom for which we have no idea? The worship of the Church was from the beginning and is even now our entrance and communication with the new life of the Kingdom. Through its liturgical life, the Church reveals to us those that “the eye did not see and the ear did not hear and did not ascend to the heart of man, but God prepared those who love him” (Cor. 2: 9). And at the center of this liturgical life, like its heart and its midnight – like the sun whose rays penetrate everything – is Easter. Easter is the door, open every year, leading to the glorious Kingdom of Christ, it is the taste of the eternal joy that awaits us, it is the glory of victory which from now on, though invisible, floods all creation: death is defeated ».

The whole worship of the Church is organized around Easter, that is why the liturgical time, that is, the succession of the seasons and the feasts, becomes a journey, a pilgrimage to Easter, which is the End and which is at the same time the Beginning. It is the end of all that is “old” and the beginning of “new life”, a continual passage from “this world” to the kingdom revealed in Christ.

Nevertheless, the “old” life, the life of sin and smallness, is not easy to overcome and change. The Gospel awaits and asks man to make an effort which, in the situation man is in now, is essentially unfulfilled. We are facing a challenge. The vision, the goal, the way of new life is for us a challenge that is so much beyond our capabilities!

That is why even the Apostles, when they heard the Lord’s teaching, asked Him desperately: “Can they then be saved?” (Matt. 19:26). In fact, it is not at all easy to give up an insignificant ideal of life made with daily care, with the search for material goods, with security and enjoyment and to accept another ideal of life which of course is not devoid of perfection in its purpose: Become perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. This is what the world with all its “means” tells us: be happy, do not worry, I follow the “wide” path. Christ in the Gospel says: choose the narrow path, strive and suffer, because this is the path to the only true happiness. And if the Church does not help, how can we make this terrible choice? How can we repent and return to the wonderful promise we are given each year at Easter? This is exactly the time when Lent appears. This is the helping hand “that the Church extends to us. It is the school of repentance that will give us the strength to accept Easter not as a simple opportunity to eat, drink, rest, but, basically, as the end of the “old” that is within us and as our entrance into the new.

In the ancient Church, the main purpose of Lent was to prepare the Catechumens, that is, the new Christian candidates, for the baptism that, at that time, took place during the resurrection Divine Liturgy. But even now that the Church no longer baptizes Christians into old age and the institution of catechism no longer exists, the basic meaning of Lent remains the same. Because, although we are baptized, what we constantly lose and betray is exactly what we received in Baptism. So Easter for us is the return, which we do every year, to our baptism and therefore Lent is our preparation for this return – the slow but persistent effort to finally make our own “passage”, our “Easter” in the new life in Christ. The fact that, as we will see, the sequences in Lent worship still retain their catechistic and baptismal character today, is not because “archaeological” remains are preserved, but it is something alive and essential for us. That is why every year Lent and Easter are, once again, the discovery and realization of what we became with our “baptism” death and resurrection.

A journey, a pilgrimage! As we begin, as we take the first step into the “bliss” of Lent we see – far, far away – the destination. It is the joy of the Brilliant, it is the entrance to the glory of the Kingdom. It is this vision, the taste of Easter, that makes the sorrow of Lent joy, light, and our own effort a spiritual “spring.” The night may be dark and long, but all along the road a secret and radiant dawn seems to shine on the horizon. “Do not overwhelm us with our expectation, Philanthropist!”

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