Christian Counseling: Preparation for Lent from the Perspective of the East
Prior to the start of the Great Fast, the Eastern Church in particular prepares itself through four Pre-Lenten Sunday themes. These themes are associated with fasting, forgiveness and judgment and are also Sundays that celebrate items that will be denied during the Fast. Christian Counselors who have knowledge of Eastern ideals can also help you understand these celebrations.
The first Sunday is the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee. In this story, Eastern Catholics and Orthodox Christians are shown the importance of humility in fasting. God rejects pride and one’s ego and will only accept sacrifices in humility.
The second Sunday is the Sunday of the Prodigal Son. This biblical parable tells of how the irresponsible son returned to his father after years of neglect. It emphasizes God’s forgiveness but also entices us to realize that God’s love is always there but it is us through our own fall nature that keeps that love out of our life. Our exile is self imposed and all we need to do is return to God and he will accept us and shower us with his love.
The third Sunday is the Sunday of the Last Judgment. This Sunday emphasizes how those who refuse to love their fellow neighbor will face damnation. Christ in this classic story prophesies how he will ask everyone how they treated their fellow neighbor and when they did or did not, they did or did not to him. This Sunday also celebrates Meatfare Sunday as the last day before the great Fast in which they can eat meat.
The final Sunday is the Sunday of Forgiveness. This Sunday illustrates how we must fast in private and not advertize the world our suffering. Instead Christ teaches that we should clean ourselves and hide our fasting for only the Father needs to know of our good deeds. Christ also emphasizes in the Gospel during that week how if we forgive others how we will also receive forgiveness. This Sunday also celebrates Cheesefare Sunday where the last day of dairy consumption is permitted before the start of the Great Fast.
These four Sundays prepare Eastern Christians for Clean Monday or the first day of Lent, which is a complete day of Abstinence from dairy and meat. Of course, Latin or Western Catholic do not begin their Lenten journey, two days later on Ash Wednesday. While the Eastern Catholics and Orthodox Christians share the same feasts, they fall on different days as well since the Eastern Catholics share the Gregorian Calendar unlike the Orthodox who follow the Julian calendar.
If you are interested in learning more about Christian Counseling or Lenten themes, please review the site and also keep in mind, there is a library of resources on Lent from last year, just merely go to February and March of 2012 to find other related articles.
If you would like to learn where to take Christian Counseling Courses, then please also review our program.
Mark Moran, MA