GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERICA 8-10 East 79th St. New York, NY 10021 Tel: (212) 570-3530 Fax: (212) 774-0215 Web: http://www.goarch.org Email: email@example.com
F0R IMMEDIATE RELEASE February 7, 2007
CONTACT: Nikki Stephanopoulos
ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS BEGIN GREAT LENT FEBRUARY 19 SUNDAY OF ORTHODOXY CELEBRATED WORLDWIDE FEBRUARY 25 PASCHA (EASTER) TO BE OBSERVED APRIL 8 BY ALL CHRISTIANS
New York, NY - Over 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, including some five million in North America, will enter the season of Great and Holy Lent on Monday, February 19. This solemn day will mark the beginning of the period of prayer and fasting that precedes the celebration of Pascha, the most sacred and holy day of the Orthodox Church. PASCHA (EASTER) will be observed by all Christians on April 8.
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, acknowledging the spiritual significance of the Lenten period, states in his Lenten encyclical to the faithful:
"As we begin this period of Lent, let us be mindful of the huge blessings that God gives to us each day of this life. Let us express our appreciation for these blessings through fasting, through our spiritual growth, through our increased prayer to God, and through our awareness that He has created us as creatures capable of worshipping Him as our Immortal King and our God. May His infinite love and protection sustain all of you throughout this very holy season, and may your Lenten journey be one filled with opportunities for coming closer and closer to an everlasting communion with Christ our Lord."
The Orthodox Christian Lent always begins on the Monday before the Sunday of Orthodoxy. It is designated as Clean Monday, the Monday of cleansing or purification. On that day Orthodox faithful are required to begin a spiritual and moral purification through fasting, prayer, meditation, repentance, attending Lenten religious services and partaking of the Sacraments of Confession and Communion.
Religious services during the Lenten period are especially beloved by Orthodox faithful. They include the Compline, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, the Salutations to the Virgin Mary and the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil compiled in the 4th Century.
SUNDAY OF ORTHODOXY
The historical significance of the Sunday of Orthodoxy dates to 787 A.D. when the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council of Nicaea decreed the restoration of the icons, formulating the genuine Orthodox teaching about holy icons. In 843 A.D. when the icons were finally restored in the churches, the first Sunday of Lent was designated as a day for thanksgiving and doxology. It came to be known as the Sunday of Orthodoxy, calling the faithful to a rededication to the Orthodox Christian Faith, as received from the Apostles.
GREAT LENT AND PASCHA IN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH 2007 Great Lent Begins February 19 Holy Week (Palm Sunday through Holy Saturday) April 1-April 7 PASCHA (Easter) April 8 Ascension Day May 17 Pentecost May 27
For more information on the Orthodox Christian observance of Great Lent and Pascha: http://www.greatlent.goarch.org
For information on the Calendar of the Orthodox Church:
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