Some Notes on Byzantine Pre-Lent

The current Byzantine Liturgy and the Roman usus antiquior have a point of unity in their respective observances of Pre-Lent.

In Constantinople, in either the sixth or seventh century, a week of Pre-Lent developed gradually, and was commonly called “The Week without Meat”. It is likely that this is in imitation of the Church in Palestine, which calculated Lent in forty days, Monday through Friday, over eight weeks. Byzantines did not need the extra days, since they counted the forty days continuously. So the compromise to the eight weeks of Palestine was to add a week of gradual fasting prior to the Great Fast. Now commonly known as “Cheese-Fare Week”, during this week Byzantines begin fasting from meat but continue to eat cheese and other dairy products right up until “Pure Monday”, the first day of the Fast (two days before the Roman “Ash Wednesday”).

There are four Sundays within Byzantine Pre-Lent. The “Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee” calls us to consider our life, and to repent of our sins for repentance is the door through which we enter the Holy Forty Days Fast. The “Sunday of the Prodigal Son” calls us to “come to ourselves” and return to the Father, who eagerly awaits our return. The “Sunday of the Last Judgment” reminds us that while the Lord’s mercy is immeasurable even He does not forgive those who do not repent. And, finally, on “Forgiveness Sunday” we remember Adam’s expulsion from Paradise and the proper method of fasting (don’t put on a gloomy face).

This time of Pre-Lent is also used to ease us into fasting. The week before the “Prodigal Son” is totally fast free (we eat meat, even on Friday). The following week we fast from meat on Wednesday and Friday (the “Sunday of the Last Judgment” is also known as “Meat-Fare”). During the week just prior to the Fast (“Cheese-Fare Week”) we start our abstinence from meat, but we continue to eat cheese and other dairy products. The full fast from both meat and dairy begins with the first day of Lent.

Terror seizes me when I think of the unquenchable fire,
Of the bitter worm,
the gnashing of teeth,
and soul-destroying hell;
yet I do not turn to You with true compunction.
O Lord! Lord! Before the end strengthen Your fear within me!


-- Matins, Seventh Ode, Sunday of the Last Judgment


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Teachings of Christ

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:37-40 ESV)

Scripture

July 8, 2018
Seventh Sunday After Pentecost
- Matins: John 20:1-10 (Gospel 7)
- Liturgy: Romans 15:1-7, Matthew 9:27-35

Eighth Week After Pentecost
- Monday: 1 Corinthians 9:13-18, Matthew 16:1-6
- Tuesday: 1 Corinthians 10:5-12, Matthew 16:6-12
- Wednesday: 1 Corinthians 10:12-22, Matthew 16:20-24
- Thursday: 1 Corinthians 10:28-11:7, Matthew 16:24-28
- Friday: 1 Corinthians 11:8-22, Matthew 17:10-18
- Saturday: Romans 13:1-10, Matthew 12:30-37

July 15, 2018
Eighth Sunday After Pentecost
- Matins: John 20:11-18 (Gospel 8)
- Liturgy: 1 Corinthians 1:10-18, Matthew 14:14-22
Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils
- Vespers: Genesis 17:15-17, 19; 18:11-14; 21:1-7, Judges 13:2-8, 13-14, Composite 19
- Liturgy: Hebrews 13:7-16, John 17:1-12

Ninth Week After Pentecost
- Monday: 1 Corinthians 11:31-12:6, Matthew 18:7-11
- Tuesday: 1 Corinthians 12:12-26, Matthew 18:18-22; 19:1, 2, 13-15
- Wednesday: 1 Corinthians 13.4-14:5, Matthew 20:1-16
- Thursday: 1 Corinthians 14:6-19, Matthew 20:17-28

July 20, 2018
Holy Prophet Elias
- Vespers: 3 [1] Kings 17:1-23, 3 [1] Kings 18, 19, 3 [1] Kings 19:19, 20, 21, 4 [2] Kings 2:1, 6-14
- Matins: Luke 4:22-30
- Liturgy: James 5:10-20, Luke 4:22-30

- Friday: 1 Corinthians 14:26-40, Matthew 21:12-14, 17-20
- Saturday: Romans 14:6-9, Mathew 15:32-39

July 22, 2018
Ninth Sunday After Pentecost
- Matins: John 20:19-31 (Gospel 9)
- Liturgy: 1 Corinthians 3:9-17, Matthew 14:22-34

Feasts & Fasts

July
1 - Canada Day (Canada)
4 - Independence Day (USA)
15 - Sunday of the Holy Fathers of the First Six Ecumenical Councils
20 - Holy, Glorious Prophet Elias

August
1-14 - Dormiton Fast
6 - Transfiguation of Our Lord, God and Savior, Jesus Christ
15 - Dormition of the Mother of God

Please pray!

"They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword...." (Hebrews 11:37a)

Please lift up in prayer all those who are persecuted and deprived of liberty, everywhere in the world. Please especially remember the peoples of Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Niger - the whole Middle East and Africa - who are literal martyrs for Christ. Also the peoples of Ukraine. They are our brothers, for all are one in Christ.

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Pentecost

Blessed are You, O Christ our God, * Who has shown the fishermen to be all wise, * by sending down to them the Holy Spirit, * and through them You have caught the whole world in Your net. * O Lover of Mankind, glory to You. (Troparion - Tone 8)

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages. Amen.

When the Most High descended, confusing tongues, * He divided the nations; * but when He distributed the tongues of fire, * He called all to unity; * and, with one voice, * we glorify the Most Holy Spirit. (Kontakion - Tone 8)

Random Proverb

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. (Proverbs 1:7 ESV)

Pray Without Ceasing

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Wisdom from the Church Fathers

For Christians above all men are forbidden to correct the stumblings of sinners by force...it is necessary to make a man better not by force but by persuasion. We neither have autority granted us by law to restrain sinners, nor, if it were, should we know how to use it, since God gives the crown to those who are kept from evil, not by force, but by choice.

St. John Chrysostom