The Triodion: Preparing for Holy and Great Lent

Hieromartyr Haralambos the Bishop of Magnesia in Thessaly

Beloved brothers and sisters in Christ Our Only True God and Our Only True Savior,


O God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, You have raised us from our beds of sleep, and have gathered us for the hour of prayer. Grant that as we open our mouth in prayer, our offering of thanksgiving prayers may be acceptable to You. Teach us Your judgments, for we do not know how to pray unless You, Lord, will guide us by Your Holy Spirit. For this reason we beseech You to have mercy and forgive whatever sins, up to this time, we have, voluntary or involuntary, committed in word, in deed, in thought. For if You were to regard our sins, O Lord, who would be able to stand before You, Lord? Redemption comes from You; For You are the Only One Who is Holy; the only powerful Helper and Defender of our life, and our praise is always given to You. May the power of Your Kingdom be ever Blessed and Glorified, of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and forever and to the ages of ages. Amen.


By Saint Gregory the Great

"Hold to patience in your hearts, my friends, and put it into action when the situation calls for it. Don't let any abusive word from your neighbor stir up hatred in you, and don't allow any loss of things that pass away to upset you. If you are steadfast in fearing the loss of those things that last forever, you will never take seriously the loss of those that pass away; if you keep your eyes fixed on the glory of our Eternal recompense, you will not resent a temporal injury. You must bear with those who oppose you, but also love those you fear with. Seek and Eternal reward in return for your temporal losses."


By Saint John of the Ladder (Climacus)

"Let us approach willingly the most sacred prayer, the queen of the virtues, speaking to us with an exalted voice and saying: Come to me, all who have become weary of the carnal and the worldly and the demonic warfare, and I will redeem you from all of these and give your rest (cf. St. Matthew 11:18)."



On February 10th Our Holy Orthodox Christian Church commemorates, honors and entreats the holy intercessions of the following Saints, Forefathers, Fathers, Patriarchs, Prophets, Apostles, Preachers, Evangelists, Martyrs, Confessors, Ascetics, Teachers and every righteous spirit made perfect in Our Holy Orthodox Christian faith: Saint Haralambos, Hieromartyr and Bishop of Magesia and Holy Martyrs Porphyrios and Baptus; Saint Anastasios II, Archbishop of Jerusalem; Saint Anatole, Metropolitan of Odessa; Saint Zeno of Caesarea; Saint Prochoros the Orach-eater of the Kiev Caves; Saints Ennatha, Valentina, and Paula of Palestine; Synaxis (Assembly) of Novgorod Hierarchs; Saint John Chimchimeli of Bachkovo; Saint Scholastica of Italy, sister of Saint Benedict; Saint Anna of Novgorod, wife of Yaroslav I; Saint Longinos of Vologda; Saint Martyrius, Archbishop of Novgorod; Synaxis of the Mother of God (Theotokos) in Areobindus.

+By the holy intercessions of Your Saints, Holy Martyrs, Holy Bishops and Archbishops, Holy Ascetics, Holy Mothers, Holy Fathers, O Christ Our God, have mercy on us and save us. Amen.

THE HIEROMARTYR HARALAMBOS. Saint Haralambos was bishop in Magesia, and suffered for Christ at the age of 113. When a violent persecution broke out under the pagan Roman Emperor Severus, the aged St. Haralmbos did not hide from his persecutors, but freely and openly preached the Christian faith. He endured all tortures as though not in the body, and when they flayed the living flesh from him, the godly Saint said to the Emperor's soldiers: "Thank you, my brethren, for scraping off the old body and renewing my soul for new and eternal life." He performed many wonders (miracles) and brought many to the Faith. Even the Emperor's daughter, Gallina, repudiated the paganism of her father and became a Christian. Condemned to death and led to the place of execution, Saint Haralambos raised his arms to heaven and prayed for all men, that God would give them bodily health and salvation of soul, and that He would grant them the fruits of the earth in abundance: "Lord, Thou knowest that men are flesh and blood; forgive them their sins and pour out Thy blessing on all." After praying thus, the saintly Elder gave his soul to God before the executioner had laid his sword to his neck. He suffered in the year of our Lord 202. Galina took his holy body and buried it.

Apolytikion (Dismissal) Hymn. Fourth Tone

An unshaken pillar of the Church of Christ God art thou, an ever resplendent lamp, O Haralambos most wise, which shineth throughout the earth; in martyric contest thou hast shined on the whole world, and thou hast dispelled the moonless night of the idols. Now boldly intercede thou with Christ that we may all be saved.

Kontakion. Fourth Tone

Thou didst rise up in the East, a luminary that enlightened faithful men with thy bright shafts of miracles, O Haralambos; hence we revere thy godly contest, O Martyr of sacred fame.


Holy Epistle Lesson: 2 Timothy 2:1-10
Holy Gospel Lesson: St. John 15:17-27, 16:1-2


"No confession and correction exists in Hades for those who have departed. For God has limited conduct and action to this life; while in the next life, the examination of the actions. We do not want to feel embarrassed here in front of one person; then what will we do there in front of so many myriads? Think about how the court of God will be; think about all the sins you have committed. Even if you forget the sins, God never forgets; but He will set everything before your eyes if you do not proceed to obliterate them now through repentance and confession." [Saint John Chrysostom)


Dear Syndiakonoi (co-servants in Christ),

The weeks of preparation, and especially the Sunday Gospel readings, serve to exercise the mind, whereas the fasting of Holy and Great Lent focuses on the body, and Holy and Great Week's services exercise the spirit.


The three weeks that commence on the Fourth Sunday prior to Holy and Great Lent constitute the weeks of preparation. Each has its own distinct theme which is expressed in the Gospels readings appointed for the Divine Liturgies on these days:

1. Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee (St. Luke 18:9-14),

2. Sunday of the Prodigal Son (St. Luke 15:11-32), and

3. Sunday of the Last Judgment (also called Meat-Fare Sunday; St. Matthew 25:31-46).

4. Sunday of Forgiveness (also called Cheese-Fare Sunday; The Expulsion of Adam from the Garden of Eden is also a theme of this day); St. Matthew 6:14-21.

Our Holy Mother Church eases us into the Holy and Great Lent fasting discipline during this period. The week following the Sunday of the Publican and Pharisee is fast free (there is no fasting this coming week). The week following the Prodigal Son is a normal week-we fast as usual on Wednesday and Friday. In the week following Meat-Fare Sunday, no meat is eaten; eggs, fish, wine, and dairy are permitted on any day.

Forgiveness Sunday brings the period of preparation to an end. The next day, Clean Monday, begins Holy and Great Lent (Fast). The Vespers service served on the evening of Forgiveness Sunday includes the Rite of Mutual Forgiveness and is the first service of Holy and Great Lent. However, seeing that very few if any attend the evening service of Forgiveness we conducted immediately following the Divine Liturgy on Sunday.


Holy and Great Lent begins on the Monday following Forgiveness Sunday (also called
Cheese-Fare Sunday
) with each Sunday highlighted as follows:

1. Sunday of Orthodoxy (St. John 1:43-51),

2. Sunday of Saint Gregory Palamas (St. Mark 2:1-12),

3. Sunday of the Holy Cross (St. Mark 8:34-38, 9:1),

4. Sunday of Saint John Climacus (of the Ladder) (St. Mark 9: 17-31), and

5. Sunday of Saint Mary of Egypt (St. Mark 10:32-45).


Our Holy Mother Church has always believed and taught that death only ends our lives on earth but that they continue living after death. "Now that the dead are raised, even Moses showed at the bush, when he called the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For He is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto Him" (St. Luke 20:37-38). Orthodox Christians pray for those asleep in the Lord as an expression of faith in the resurrection and the belief that in death our relationship with Christ continues.

The Tradition of Koliva

When the memorial service is offered, it is an Orthodox Christian practice for the family of the deceased to bring a dish of boiled wheat to the Church service. The wheat, known as Kolyva, is a symbol of the Resurrection. When speaking of the Resurrection, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ said: "Unless the grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone, but if it dies it bears much fruit" (St. John 12:24).

But why is Saturday the day of the souls? There are many explanations. The most likely explanation why Saturday was set apart for the departed appears to be that the world "Saturday"--coming from the Hebrew word Sabbath--means rest. And on this day we are praying for the repose of the souls i.e., for those who rest.

Our Holy Church continuous intercommunion between those of its members that are still struggling on earth and those that have already slept in the Lord. Saturday holds special significance in the religious calendar as the day on which the Crucified Christ lay dead in the tomb before His Resurrection.

A consistent spiritual teaching of the Ecumenical Church of Christ has been that in the remembrance of death (one's own death and death generally) one gains perspective that helps him or her actually live the New Life of Christ while still in "this body of death," as Saint Paul says.

Four Satrudays a year (the two Saturdays prior to Great and Holy Lent, the first Saturday of Great Lent, and the Saturday before Pentecost) are dedicated to praying for our departed brothers and sisters in Christ, called Saturdays of the Souls (Psychosavvata). After the Divine Liturgy, those who have departed for Eternal Life are commemorated (prayed for) by the Priest in a Memorial Service. The Orthodox Baptismal Names of the departed should be submitted on these days. Those who would wish may prepare Kollyva as an offering.

History tells us that in the year 362 A.D. the pagan Roman Emperor Julian the Apostate tried to defile the faithful of the city of Constantinople by replacing all the foods in the marketplace with his own foods that were sprinkled with the blood from idol sacrifices. His plan entailed that since Christians would not bow down to idols they would unknowingly defile themselves by partaking of the sacrifices to the pagan gods. In order to prevent this defilement, Saint Theodore of Tyro appeared to the then Patriarch Evdoxios and instructed him to boil wheat-in his country they called it Kollyva-and to give it to the Christian faithful to eat instead. Patriarch Evdoxios did as he was told, and all the Christians of the city were kept undefiled in their Lenten fast. The intervention of Saint Theodore was instigated by Christ Himself.

The Gospel reading for the Third Saturday of Souls reveals to us that the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath (St. Mark 2:28). Jesus through His Cross and Resurrection stands as Lord of the Eternal Day that lies beyond death.

Please note: Only the first names are needed (either in Greek or English) and please submit your list of names only once as names will be repeated.

Please note: There are Divine Liturgies both on Monday (the Holy Feast-Day of St. Haralambos) and on Tuesday (Saint Theodora the Empress and Holy Hiermomartyr Blaise).

Saint Blaise (Βλασίου ιερομάρτυρος) was Bishop of Sevastia. Divine grace, through which he healed the disease of men and beasts, and especially of infants, made his name famous. Saint Blaise is invoked for the healing of throat ailments.

Saint Theodore the Empress (the wife of Emperor Theophilos, the last Iconoclasts). After his death, she restored the Holy Icons to public veneration; this is commemorated on the Sunday of Orthodoxy, the first Sunday of the Great Fast.

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia,
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+Father George