Soorp Andon Juknavor
St. Anthony the Hermit, AD 251-356
Great Father of Monasticism
and keeper of a life of repentance
On the Prayer-rope (Arm. Aghotashar)

-St. Anthony is credited with helping invent
the Eastern prayer-rope for the Jesus Prayer:
"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
have mercy on me a sinner."
1.  THE GREAT FAST IN THE BYZANTINE CHURCH TRADITION:

Keeping the Fasts in our Byzantine Tradition by Rev. Sub-Dn. Lazarus Der-Ghazarian

The St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church Liturgy of the Pre-Sanctified Gifts:

On Fasting:  Lessons from the Fathers

On the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts in Byzantine Church Tradition

Fasting for Orthodox Christians The Desert Fathers and other reflections

On Christian Monasticism by Rev. Sub-Dn. Lazarus Der-Ghazarian

Unceasing Prayer from V. Rev. Fr. Thomas Hopko's "Rainbow Series" on the Orthodox Faith

Fasting from V. Rev. Fr. Thomas Hopko's Rainbow Series on the Orthodox Faith

Almsgiving from V. Rev. Fr. Thomas Hopko's Rainbow Series on the Orthodox Faith

Lenten Talk On the Parable of the Unjust Steward by Rev. Sub-Dn. Der-Ghazarian (2005)

Lenten Talk
On Keeping a Daily Rule of Prayer by Rev. Sub-Dn. Der-Ghazarian (2007)

An Orthodox Commentary on the Ten Commandments

2.  THE GREAT FAST IN THE ARMENIAN CHURCH TRADITION:

Lenten Selections of St. Gregory of Narek's Great Mystical Book of Prayer

Commemorations of the Armenian Church during the Great Fast from the Domar

Great Week in the Armenian Church Tradition from the Domar

The Traditional Fasts in the Armenian Church by Most Rev. Abp. Malachias Ormanian

Frequently Asked Questions about Great Lent by V. Rev. Fr. Daniel Findikyan

Keeping the Fasts in the Armenian Church by Rev. Sub-Dn. Lazarus Der-Ghazarian

Great Lent- the Journey to Pascha by Rev. Fr. Shenork Souin

The Fast of the Catechumens by Rev. Fr. Shenork Souin

3.  GREAT ASCETICS AND SPIRITUAL FATHERS OF THE EAST:

St. Anthony of the Desert  /  St. John of the Ladder  /  St. Basil the Great  /  

St. John the Golden-mouthed  /  St. Isaac the Syrian  /  St. Gregory of Narek  /  

St. Nerses the Gracefilled  /  St. Gregory Palamas  /  St. John Cassian  
You also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood,
to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.  
-1st Epistle of Saint Peter (2:5)

The period known in the West as Lent (from an Anglo-Saxon word meaning Spring) is
known in the Eastern Churches as the
Great Fast. This title distinguishes it from our other
penitential periods preceding major feasts throughout the liturgical year and emphasizes its
preeminence as the
Fast of fasts.  The Great Fast is understood by Eastern Christians as a
time of repentance through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  
Today we can distinguish between the modern approach to this season, and the ancient,
canonical approach of the Eastern Churches.  In the Western Church, similar to making a
new year's resolution, a Christian often decides what to "give up for Lent."  This approach is
contrasted with that of Eastern Churches which observe a "canonical fast" noted in the 69th
Apostolic Canon.  Simply stated this fast consists of the faithful doing their best to fast
during weekdays and to abstain from meat and animal byproducts for forty days.  Whatever
else is contrary to the penitential spirit of the season is also to be avoided.  The Great Fast is
a call to set aside more time for God in prayer and to remember the poor through
almsgiving.  Variations exist, but this is the basic pattern which has been followed since
ancient times.
Following the Biblical pattern for fasting, the Eastern Churches work together as ONE
BODY to keep the Great Fast, seeking God's forgiveness and interceding for one another.  
Lenten cook books are an outgrowth of this experience.  For generations the Great Fast has
been a profound time for repentance and spiritual healing for the Church.  Abstinence and
fasting from food, as the Holy Fathers teach, are indispensable tools of repentance.  Saint
Basil the Great once said, "Since we were wounded by sin, we must treat it with penance.  
But penance without fast is worthless.  Then by fasting justify yourself before God."  Thus
fasting from food remains an essential part of penance for Eastern Christians.
Today in this hedonistic age, Christians must live lives of repentance.  Yet not only is it
common to hear some emphasizing an individualistic approach (at the expense of the
corporate), sadly it is common to hear our fasts being trivialized or ignored altogether.  The
Church must proclaim her fast periods and encourage the faithful on the narrow road of faith
and repentance.  As the Body of Christ, we must work together as one "spiritual house... to
offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ."  Then, at the conclusion of
the Great Fast, having traveled this road together as one body, we can also celebrate our
Lord's triumphant Passover from death to life on the great day of His Holy
Resurrection!

                                             -Rev. Sub-Deacon Lazarus W. Der-Ghazarian, M.A.
St. Gregory of Narek
Great Armenian Monk, Mystic
& Doctor of Repentance
Return to home page of the
St. Gregory the Illuminator Institute
The 69th Canon of the Holy Apostles:

"If any bishop, presbyter, deacon,
sub-deacon, reader, or chanter
does not fast during the
Forty Days of Pascha,
or on Wednesday or Friday,
let him be defrocked
except if he were prevented
on account of bodily illness,
but if a layman let him be
excommunicated."
The Great Fast
In the Orthodox Tradition of the Eastern Churches
In the Melkite "Byzantine Church the law of fast and abstinence is obligatory to every baptized person [except pregnant or nursing mothers and the
infirm].  Every member of Christ has the duty to atone for his sins and those of his fellow-members.  This obligation, however, is not binding
under mortal sin.  In modern practice, fast consists in complete abstinence from any food or liquid from midnight to noon, from Monday through
Friday.  No meat is eaten, except on Saturdays and Sundays"  -from the Melkite Church book:  
Byzantine Catholic Worship