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."

Theosis:  The Goal of Christian Life by Sub-Dn. Lazarus Der-Ghazarian    

The Ten Commandments:  A Short Guide for Preparation for Confession     

Developing Prayer in the Byzantine Tradition by Sub-Dn. Lazarus Der-Ghazarian  

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

A Meditative Guide for Preparation for Confession    

A Guide to Praying the Psalter During the Great Fast      
On the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts in Byzantine Church Tradition
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

Lessons from the Fathers on Fasting   

An Orthodox Commentary on the Ten Commandments by Archpriest Victor Potapav   


Speaking to God from the Depths of the Heart  St. Gregory's Mystical Book of Prayer

Frequently Asked Questions about Great Lent by Fr. Daniel Findikyan

Great Fast Commemorations of the Armenian Church from the Domar

Great Week in the Armenian Church Tradition from the Domar

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

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


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  

(c) Copyright: 2001-2018, Lazarus Der-Ghazarian,, All Rights Reserved
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 the modern approach is
similar to making a new year's resolution.  A Christian decides what to "give up for Lent."  
This approach is contrasted with that of Eastern Churches which observe the historic
"canonical fast" noted as far back as 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 a period of forty plus days.  Whatever else is contrary to the
penitential spirit of the season is also avoided.  The Great Fast is a call to set aside more time
for God in prayer and to remember the poor through almsgiving.  Some 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 historic 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
Today, in our hedonistic age, Christians must fight sin and evil through living lives of
repentance.  Yet it is common to hear some emphasizing an individualistic approach at the
expense of the corporate.  Even more sadly, it is also common to hear the fasts being
trivialized or ignored altogether.  The Church must humbly proclaim her penitential periods
and encourage the faithful to do their best on the narrow path 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 end of the Great Fast,
having traveled this path together as one body, we can triumphantly celebrate our Lord's
Holy Pascha (Passover) from death to life on the great day of His

                                                -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 Enlightener 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
The Great Fast
Lent in the Orthodox Tradition

St. Paul summarizes the spirit in which we pursue our Lenten asceticism: "But I
discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, after preaching to others,
I myself should be disqualified."
(Cf. 1st Letter to the Corinthians 9:24-27).