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Liturgical Texts for March, Great Lent Available Now

The procession of the Holy Cross on the Third Sunday of Great Lent at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church of Montreal, PQ.The procession of the Holy Cross on the Third Sunday of Great Lent at St. Nicholas Antiochian Orthodox Church of Montreal, PQ.Great Lent has now begun, which Orthodox Christians worldwide know as a holy period of sacrifice and purification in anticipation of Great and All-holy Pascha, the Resurrection of our Lord, God and Savior Jesus Christ. The liturgical texts for the month of March to guide them through the divine services in this season, blessed by His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph, are now ready for clergy and laity to download from the Online Liturgical Guide.

On weekdays of Great Lent, the Orthodox Church does not celebrate the festive Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom (except for the Annunciation). However, so as not to deprive the clergy and faithful of Holy Communion, it offers the Presanctified Divine Liturgy of St. Gregory the Dialogist on Wednesday nights, using a Eucharist that was consecrated the previous Sunday. On Friday nights, the Church offers Little Compline with the Canon and Akathist Hymn to the Most-holy Theotokos, imploring her for help at all times but especially during the Great Fast to ward off temptation and sin. Parishes can access these services and a wealth of other liturgical resources for Great Lent by clicking here. Sayidna Joseph has also blessed all of these.

Each Sunday of Great Lent has a special theme to help Orthodox Christians in their Lenten journey. The first is known as the Sunday of Orthodoxy, when the Church commemorates the restoration of the holy icons, once and for all, in the ninth century. Not only are icons "windows" into the Kingdom of Heaven, they also depict our Savior as fully God and fully human and remind us to return to that fullness with which He created us.

On the second Sunday of Great Lent, the Church remembers St. Gregory Palamas, archbishop of Thessalonica. He taught hesychasm, or inner, still and deep prayer important during the Great Fast as the devil constantly seeks to pull Orthodox Christians away from God. On the third Sunday, we especially venerate the Precious and Life-giving Cross, the symbol of suffering and death in the ancient world that our Lord turned into joy, life and entry into Heaven. Clergy and altar servers process with the hand cross on a plate of roses and basil leaves on this day.

On March 25 (and into March 26), the Orthodox Church celebrates the Annunciation to the Ever-virgin Mary, where she learned from the Archangel Gabriel that she would carry God in her womb and give birth to Him. This Annunciation and the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the Theotokos, leading to the incarnation of our Lord, began the salvation of mankind and restoration of all creation. (Synaxarion at Orthros)

The Online Liturgical Guide, produced by the Department of Liturgics, provides the official, uniform word-for-word texts to be used for the divine services in all parishes across the Archdiocese. Should you have any questions, please contact Subdeacon Peter Samore at service_texts@antiochianladiocese.org.