A Lenten Challenge

by abbamoses

This was first written with my own parish in mind, but I post it here with the thought that it might apply more widely.

A Lenten Challenge
During the Great Fast, the Church invites us to struggle harder and to pray more fervently for our salvation and spiritual growth. As part of its invitation, the Church offers us a wealth of services every week of the Fast to help us draw closer to our Lord. As anyone who attends these services can tell you, not all of us take advantage of them: attendance is often quite poor.
May I offer a challenge for this Lenten season? Come to at least one Lenten service every week of the Great Fast. (The Sunday Divine Liturgy isn’t really a Lenten service and doesn’t count!). Many, but not nearly all, of our faithful already do more than this. God will surely bless them for their faithfulness.
Anyone who can get to church has the ability to meet this very modest challenge. Do we tell ourselves that we’re “too busy” to fit in even one weekday service? Perhaps we have filled our lives with other activities, but in doing so we have said about each activity: “This is more important than church.” This is a delusion.
Here is a bonus challenge: During Holy Week, the schedule of services becomes especially intense and, I believe, especially beautiful. Every day we have an opportunity to come to church and participate in our Lord’s Passion. Beginning on Holy Thursday, both morning and evening services are offered, including the Holy Thursday liturgy commemorating the institution of the Mystical Supper, one of the most important events in the history of the universe. Consider taking a “Vacation” — from work and/or from school — from Holy Thursday until Pascha, and attending all of the services with your family. This isn’t practical for everyone, but it is practical for many of us who may not have considered it.
I am confident that many people, once they have experienced the unique beauty of our Lenten services, will see them not as a duty but as a blessing that they will hunger to enjoy again every year.