In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spitrit One God AMEN.
The Great Lent: Abi Tsome
“ Serve the Lord with fear, And rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest He be angry”
This Monday we are going to start the Great Lent. Great Lent is considered the holiest fast since our Lord Jesus Christ Himself had fasted it. Therefore, during Great Lent we follow the example set by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who fasted on our behalf forty days and forty nights (Matt. 4: 2). In the Fetha Negest (Law of the Kings)* fasting is defined as follows:"
Fasting is abstinence from food, and is observed by man at certain times determined by law, to attain forgiveness of sins and much reward, obeying thus the one who fixed the law. Fasting (also) serves to weaken the force of concupiscence so that (the body) may obey the rational soul." During this fasting period, Christians abstain from meat and all animal products: meat, milk, butter and eggs. No food or drink is taken before noon; the seriously sick are exempted from fasting after they talked with their priest.Because of the significance and holiness of Great Lent, the Church designated a week of preparation to precede the 40 days.
The Church is teaching us to prepare for Great Lent in a spiritual manner. We fast to prepare ourselves for the 40 holy days. In fact, the preparatory week is not the only fast which the Church designated to get us ready for Great Lent and Holy Week. Two weeks prior to Great Lent there is Jonah's Fast, also known as Nineveh's Fast. It is a short fast, only three days, and it is a fast of repentance. During this fast, we live with Jonah his fasting and repentance in the whale's belly. We also live with the Ninevites their fasting and repentance. Just as the fasting accompanied by repentance saved Jonah and the Ninevites from perdition, also our fasting accompanied by repentance will save us from eternal destruction and death due to sin.
The first week -Zewerede / Museni/ Fast of Heraclius
In our church each Sunday of the great lent carries a spiritual theme, which helps us to engage in spiritual dialogue with God through the incarnate, crucified and risen Christ. The First week of Great Lent is called Zewerede (God came to the earth) / Museni/ The Fast of King (Heraclius). The first name is taken from St. Yared's mezmure saying, "Jews has crucified God who came to the earth to save Adam". On this song, St. Yared sings about the path of salvation taken (i.e. birth, baptism, crucifixion and resurrection) by our lord Jesus Christ (John 1:9-11; 3:13-21). It is also called the fast of King Heraclius. King Heraclius was a king of Byzantines. During his reign, the neighboring country invades Jerusalem and took the cross of Jesus Christ. The 318 Church fathers asked King Heraclius to bring back the cross and agreed to fast a week for the life he is going to take while doing so. Because during that period apostles had ordered, "anyone who took a life to fast for his entire of his/ her life". It is like a preparatory fasting period for Great Lent in a spiritual manner. We fast to prepare ourselves for the 40 holy days which started the following Sunday. The additional 15 days are also for the substitution of the Saturdays and Sundays that we are eating on the 40 days of the Holy fast.
May the Prayers and Intercession of the Virgin Mary Mother of God, Angels and Saints be with all of us.
Dn. Medhanie Kifle