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 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 Sub-Dn. Lazarus Der-Ghazarian

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

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

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

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

Lenten Talk
On Keeping a Daily Rule of Prayer by 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 Abp. Malachias Ormanian

Frequently Asked Questions about Great Lent by Fr. Daniel Findikyan

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

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

The Fast of the Catechumens by 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 the historic "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
corporate 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 for Eastern Christians an essential part of our
repentance.
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 to do their best 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 Pascha (passover) from death to life on the great day of
His Holy
Resurrection!

                                                         -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