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Some Byzantine Events for Lent

Friday, March 17, 2017 5:09
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Since it is the ancient custom of the Byzantine Rite to refrain from celebrating the Divine Liturgy on the weekdays of Lent, many Byzantine churches dedicate a lot more time to the Office in this period. A reader sent me a notice that the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church of St John the Baptist in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is now live-streaming the celebration of the Office via its Facebook page; the videos can also be watched after the live-steam is over. The schedule is posted on the parish website.

Vespers of the Presentation of the Lord, from our 2015 Candlemas Photopost.

The Cathedral of St John the Baptist in Parma, Ohio, located at 1900 Carlton Road, will celebrate Matins with the Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete on Wednesday, March 29, starting at 6 pm. The Canon of St Andrew is an extraordinarily beautiful series of meditations on sin and exhortations to repentance, filled with typological and mystical explanations of Scripture, drawn from both Testaments. Just to give one example of a tropar from the beginning: “Having rivaled Adam, the first-created, by my transgression, I realize that I am stripped naked of God and of the everlasting kingdom and the joy thereof, through my sins.” The life of St Mary of Egypt, one of the great penitent Saints, is read as part of this ceremony, and a relic of her will be offered for the veneration of the faithful; Confessions will also be heard. (A commemoration of St Mary is made on the following Sunday in the Byzantine Rite, the Fifth of Lent.)

From the cathedral’s Facebook page.

The Canon is a literary form that lends itself to prolixity, and the Great Canon is the longest of any in the repertoire. On the first four days of Lent, it is split into four parts, and added to the celebration of Great Compline; on Thursday of the Fifth Week of Lent, it is sung in full at Matins, which are commonly anticipated to the previous evening. It is customary to do a full prostration, touching the floor with one’s forehead, after each of the many tropars within the Canon, but of course, with classic Byzantine common-sense, each person may do these as best they can, and no one should feel obligated if they are physically unable.

The website of the women’s monastery of Christ the Bridegroom, also in Parma, has a notice that “A simple Lenten meal will be served 5:00-5:45 p.m., and the Canon will begin at 6:00 p.m. All are invited to come for part or all of the Canon, even if you are not physically able to participate in the prostrations. The duration of the Canon is approximately 3.5 hours. Please RSVP by Friday, March 24, to 440-834-0290 or so the nuns know how much food and how many booklets to prepare.”

(Readers may remember that in December 2015, we posted videos of a priestly ordination in the cathedral of Parma and the first Mass of the ordinand, Fr Andrew Summerson.)


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