The Great Lent 2013: Schedule
- The Great Lent begins on Monday, 11th February.
As per the Syriac tradition, since the day begins in the evening, observation of lent should begin with the Lenten prayers of vespers (ramsho in Syriac) on Sunday evening. The Great Lent lasts all of 48 days, including the Passion Week, and concludes with the Holy Qurbana on Easter Sunday (March 31st, 2013).
Sunday, 10th February is Pethrutha. This is a festival observed by almost all Syrian Christians of Kerala, including the Syrian Catholics. Though Payne Smith in his dictionary has defined the word Pethrutha to mean mushroom, the traditional understanding in Malabar is that it refers to mounds of food (source: Sabha encyclopaedia). The miracle at the wedding of Cana, remembered on the same day, provides a fitting context for the Pethrutha celebrations. The Great Lent combines both fasting (Malayalam: upavaasam) and dietary restrictions (Malayalam: nombu). Dietary restrictions, as understood here, refers to avoiding fish, meat, wine, eggs and dairy products. According to the Hudoyo Canon (Chapter 5:1), fasting during the Great Lent is up to the ninth hour (approximately 3 p.m.) on week days, and till noon (12 p.m.) on Saturdays and Sundays. Nursing mothers, the sick and the infirm have been exempted from these requirements. When in doubt, always check with your priest.
The beginning of the Great Lent is signaled by the Shubhkono service on Monday, 11th February. This is a service of preparation and forgiveness and is marked by forty prostrations and the kiss of peace. Each Sunday of the Great Lent is arranged to reflect on one of the miracles performed by Our Lord.
On successive Sundays starting from February 17th, the healing of the leper, the paralytic, the Cananite woman, the cripple woman, and the blind man are remembered and reflected upon. Passion Week begins on Palm Sunday (March 24th); Passover falls on March 28th and Good Friday follows the next day.
Holy Qurbana during the Great Lent is restricted to Saturdays and Sundays with the exception of mid-lent Wednesday (March 6th), the annunciation to St. Mary (March 25th), 40th Day of Lent (March 22nd, Friday) and Passover (March 28th, Thursday). Services without Holy Qurbana during the Great Lent are Shubhkono (Monday, 10th February) and Vaade Dalmeeno (Monday, March 25). Both are conducted by the celebrant from the chancel table.
Other days of note during the Great Lent are Catholicate Day (Sunday, March 17), Saturday of Lazarus (March 23) and Saturday of Good Tidings (March 30).
Canonical prayers are said thrice a day (vespers, noon and matins) during the Great Lent. Great Lent prayers are marked by prostrations. This is done by kneeling down, touching the ground with the forehead, then standing up and making the sign of the cross. Please note that prostrations are not done on days when the Holy Qurbana is celebrated.
Noon prayers during the week days of the Great Lent are marked by forty prostrations. This is done in four sets of 10 prostrations. The first set is done to the accompanying chant of `Kurielaison'. The second set is done to the accompanying chant of `Lord have mercy upon us'. The third set is done to the accompanying chant of `Lord be kind and have mercy upon us'. And the fourth and final set is done to the accompanying chant of `Lord accept our entreaties, and have mercy upon us'.
We hope the above summary is helpful for all during the Great Lent.
In His Love,
Georgy S. Thomas, Bangalore
(On behalf of ICON Moderators)