First Week of Great Lent
- Sunday, 18th: Forgiveness Vespers and the Rite of Forgiveness following Coffee Hour.
- Monday, 19th: 6:30 pm Great Compline with the Canon of St. Andrew.
- Tuesday, 20th: 6:30 pm Great Compline with the Canon of St. Andrew.
- Wednesday, 21st: 9:00 am Daily Orthros. 6:00 pm Pre-Sanctified Liturgy
- Thursday, 22nd: 6:30 pm Great Compline with the Canon of St. Andrew.
- Friday, 23rd: 6:00 am Presanctified Liturgy.
- 7:00 pm Akathist Hymn, at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Phoenix. Metropolitan Gerasimos Presiding.
- Saturday, 24th: 9:30 am Hierarchical Divine Liturgy, Ordination of Jacob Saylor to the Holy Diaconate, at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, Scottsdale.
- Sunday, 25th: 8:30 am Orthros, 9:30 am Divine Liturgy.
- 6:00 pm Pan-Orthodox Vespers, at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church, Scottsdale. Metropolitan Gerasimos presiding.
On Forgiveness Vespers: By Fr. A.H.
With Forgiveness Vespers, which is celebrated on Cheesefare Sunday evening, Great Lent begins. This solemn period of repentance is offered to us as a way of life. A way of life that brings forgiveness from God, as well as from our brethren.
It is very characteristic what is written: “Forgive (συγχωρῶ) means to ‘move forward’ (χωρῶ) with God and with others.” With forgiveness we do not only receive a simple absolution, which implies a legalistic concept of salvation. Rather, forgiveness with God is an ocean of divine goodness that erases human sins. And so in its full reality, forgiveness becomes communion with Christ and His Kingdom.
During the course of our journey, let us mutually support one another in our weaknesses, let us mutually forgive one another by forgetting our differences, let us mutually protect one another to reach our destination. Essentially we should live to what God calls us, as a unique unity with the forgiveness that we offer to others. This is because Christians are not part of a caste system, but we are dough.
Let us now kneel, therefore, before the icon of Christ and the Panagia, our Bishop and our Fathers, as well as our brethren, and let us ask for their forgiveness, since they have much to forgive us for. And let us forgive one another. Forgiveness does not begin when peace, calmness and joy begin to reign; forgiveness begins the moment we take on each others shoulders the “burdens of one another”, and the first and heaviest load is the personhood of another, what that person is, and not what that person does or does not do. If necessary let us carry one another as Christ carried His Cross, as a type of torment, pain and death, but let us not allow someone behind under any circumstance without our forgiveness. (Source: Translated by John Sanidopoulos. http://www.johnsanidopoulos.com)
On the Great Canon of St Andrew, Bishop of Crete: It is the longest canon in all of our services, and is associated with Great Lent, since the only times it is appointed to be read in church are the first four nights of Great Lent (Clean Monday through Clean Thursday, at Great Compline, when it is serialized) and at Matins for Thursday of the fifth week of Great Lent, when it is read in its entirety.
There is no other sacred hymn which compares with this monumental work, which St Andrew wrote for his personal meditations. Nothing else has its extensive typology and mystical explanations of the scripture, from both the Old and New Testaments. One can almost consider this hymn to be a “survey of the Old and New Testament”. Its other distinguishing features are a spirit of mournful humility, hope in God, and complex and beautiful Trinitarian Doxologies and hymns to the Theotokos in each Ode.
The canon is a dialog between St. Andrew and his soul. The ongoing theme is an urgent exhortation to change one’s life. St Andrew always mentions his own sinfulness placed in juxtaposition to God’s mercy, and uses literally hundreds of references to good and bad examples from the OT and NT to “convince himself” to repent.
A canon is an ancient liturgical hymn, with a very strict format. It consists of a variable number of parts, each called an “ode”. Most common canons have eight Odes, numbered from one to nine, with Ode 2 being omitted. The most penitential canons have all nine odes. Some canons have only three Odes, such as many of the canons in the “Triodion” (which means “Three Odes”).
In any case, all Odes have the same basic format. An “Irmos” begins each Ode. This is generally sung, and each Irmos has a reference to one of the nine biblical canticles, which are selections from the Old and New Testament, which can be found in an appendix in any complete liturgical Psalter (book of Psalms, arranged for reading in the services). A variable number of “troparia” follow, which are short hymns about the subject of the canon. These are usually chanted, and not sung. After each troparion a “refrain” is chanted. At the end of each Ode, another hymn, called the “Katavasia”, either the Irmos previously sung, or one like it is sung.
The troparia of the Great Canon in all its twelve Odes are usually chanted by the priest in the center of the church, with the choir singing the Irmos and Katavasia. There are varying traditions about bows and prostrations. Some prostrate and some make the sign of the cross and bow after the Irmos and each troparion. (Source: www.orthodox.net)