If the Orthodox Church were a sports team (or a ballet or musical group!), we would say that we’ve entered into our season!
Yes, Great Lent has started
Just as teams put in regular practices (maybe even daily) and one or two games (or shows or concerts) a week, during Lent we too put in the time to practice our faith to grow stronger and build a closer relationship with Christ.
An Athlete’s Discipline
Any team, to be in tiptop condition, has to learn discipline through practice, strength conditioning, and coaching.
For Orthodox Christians, this equates to fasting, a spiritual discipline that refines the whole person, renders our faculties more subtle and sensitive to the outside world as well as to the “inner kingdom.”
An Athlete’s Diet
Any athlete also needs to be sure that his or her body is prepared for strenuous work through a proper diet and healthy foods.
It’s for this very reason that we have Presanctified Liturgies during Lent. Through regular communion, Christ feeds us giving us the strength we need for this intense spiritual season.
An Athlete’s Coach
An athlete is also prepared for his or her season through regular coaching. They learn proper techniques and correct improper forms that may hurt them in the long run.
Confession is the Church’s way of coaching us through our season. Through confession, we are freed from the burden of our sins, we break the cycle of evil, and we’re transformed.
An Athlete’s Joy
Finally, any athlete can tell you the exuberant excitement he or she feels at the big game. Win or lose, knowing you did your best, met your goals, and maintained good sportsmanship keeps the high going.
For Christians, praying the Akathist during Lent is like going to the game. We receive immense joy as we praise Christ’s mother through some of the Church’s most beautiful hymns. And, of course, the “Big Game” comes during Holy Week finally culminating at Pascha (Easter)!
P.S. Come and Join the Team!
So, I encourage you, this Great Lent, dust off that old catcher’s mitt, pull out that old instrument you haven’t played for a while, and join the team. Practice is just beginning!
Wednesdays, Presanctified Liturgies, 6 pm (March 1st – April 5th)
Fridays, Akathist (Salutations), 6 pm (March 3rd – March 31st)
And don’t forget our regular services.
St. Elias the Prophet (419 N. Grandview Ave., Dubuque)
Saturdays: Great Vespers, 4 pm
Sundays: Orthros, 9 am; Divine Liturgy, 10 am
Or find your nearest Orthodox Church by clicking here
 His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, Encountering the Mystery: Understanding Orthodox Christianity Today (New York: Doubleday, 2008), pg. 81.