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Great Lent

The Orthodox rules for lenten fasting are the monastic rules.  No meat is allowed after Meatfare Sunday, and no eggs or dairy products after Cheesefare Sunday.  These rules exist not as a Pharisaic "burden too hard to bear" (Lk 11:46), but as an ideal to be striven for; not as an end in themselves, but as a means to spiritual perfection crowned in love.  The lenten services themselves continually remind us of this.

Let us fast with a fast pleasing to the Lord.  This is the true fast: the casting off of evil, the bridling of the tongue, the cutting off of anger, the cessation of lusts, evil talking, lies and cursing.  The stopping of these is the fast true and acceptable. (Monday Vespers of the First Week)

The lenten services also make the undeniable point that we should not pride ourselves with external fasting since the devil also never eats!

 

At all of the lenten services the Prayer of St Ephraim of Syria is read. It supplicates God for those virtues especially necessary to the Christian life.

O Lord and Master of my life: take from me the spirit of sloth, faint-heartedness, lust of power and idle talk.  

But grant rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to Thy servant.

Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages. Amen.

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