How to Observe an Eastern Orthodox Lent. Observe the Eastern Orthodox Lent through fasting and self-examination. It's also a time to give to the needy and a time for prayer. Theologically it's a reflection on forgiveness, repentance and the atoning work of Christ with reconciliation to God. Observe the Great Lent to improve one's character and faith and mend broken relationships.
Prepare spiritually for four weeks before the Great Lent begins. Each Sunday focuses on a different holy theme: Parable of tax collector and Pharisee, Prodigal Son, Final Judgment and Adam expelled from paradise.
Attend Sunday evening service at an Eastern Orthodox Church the day before Great Lent begins. This day, known as Forgiveness Sunday, is the last Sunday of pre-preparation. It focuses on believers asking each other for forgiveness.
Participate in weekday fasts during Great Lent. Throughout Great Lent, the believer abstains from meat and dairy products. Fruit, vegetables and shellfish remain foods for consumption.
Keep Saturday and Sunday fasts in this holy period.
Observe a fast on the Feast of the Annunciation and Palm Sunday.
Read the Great Compline each day and on Wednesday and Friday add Liturgy of Presanctified Gifts. For four Fridays read the Akathist Hymn and on the fifth Friday the complete Hymn.
Learn the significance of Great Lent's weeks. Each Sunday further prepares the believer toward the culmination of Lent with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
- Observe the weeks of Great Lent that begin on Sunday as follows: Sunday of Orthodoxy, St. Gregory Palamas, Adoration of Cross, St. John of Climax, St. Mary of Egypt and the week of Palm Sunday to Holy Saturday followed by Easter Sunday.
- Throughout the Lenten season, believers must pray and fast to purify spiritual aspects individually and corporately.
- Typically, food is limited at mealtime and not eaten between meals.
- Check with your local Eastern Orthodox Church for particular elements of fasting.