GREEK ORTHODOX ARCHDIOCESE OF AMERICA
8-10 East 79th St. New York, NY 10021
Tel: (212) 570-3530 Fax: (212) 774-0215
For Immediate Release
February 23, 2006
ORTHODOX CHRISTIANS BEGIN GREAT LENT MARCH 6
SUNDAY OF ORTHODOXY CELEBRATED WORLDWIDE MARCH 12
EASTER (PASCHA) TO BE OBSERVED APRIL 23RD
New York- Over 250 million Orthodox Christians worldwide, including some six million in North America, will enter the season of Great and Holy Lent on Monday, March 6. This solemn day will mark the beginning of the period of prayer and fasting that precedes the celebration of Easter, the most sacred and holy day of the Orthodox Church. All Orthodox Christians will observe Easter (PASCHA) on April 23rd.
His Eminence Archbishop Demetrios, spiritual leader of the Greek Orthodox Church in America, acknowledging the spiritual significance of the Lenten period, states in his Lenten encyclical to the faithful:
"As we embark upon this most sacred season of our Holy Orthodox Church, I pray that we may all look toward Holy Lent as an opportunity for renewed spiritual growth in Christ. Through increased opportunities for prayer and worship, increased opportunities to receive the grace of God through the Holy Sacraments, and intensified efforts at spiritual askesis and almsgiving, we embark upon a journey for our building of faith and our nourishing of love for one another. May God provide you with strength during this journey of Holy Lent, so that each and every day along it you may 'grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ' (2 Peter 3:18)."
The Orthodox Christian Lent always begins on the Monday before the Sunday of Orthodoxy. It is designated as "Clean Monday", the "Monday of cleansing or purification". On that day Orthodox faithful are required to begin a spiritual and moral purification through fasting, prayer, meditation, repentance, attending Lenten religious services and partaking of the Sacraments of Confession and Communion.
Religious services during the Lenten period are especially beloved by Orthodox faithful. They include the Compline, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, the Salutations to the Virgin Mary and the Divine Liturgy of St. Basil compiled in the 4th Century.
Sunday of Orthodoxy
The historical significance of the Sunday of Orthodoxy dates to 787 A.D. when the Fathers of the Seventh Ecumenical Council of Nicaea decreed the restoration of the icons as a means for the spiritual growth and formation of the Christian ethos and character in the likeness and image of God and His Saints. In 843 A.D. when the icons were finally restored in the churches, the first Sunday of Lent was designated as a day for thanksgiving and doxology. It came to be known as the "Sunday of Orthodoxy", calling the faithful to a rededication to the Orthodox Christian Faith, as received from the Apostles. Following the Divine Liturgy, the clergy lead the faithful in the Procession of Icons and the recitation of The Declaration of Faith.
GREAT LENT AND PASCHA IN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH 2006
Great Lent Begins - March 6
Holy Week - (Palm Sunday through Holy Saturday) April 16-April 22
Easter (Pascha) - April 23
Ascension Day - June 1
Pentecost - June 11
For more information on the Orthodox Christian observance of Great Lent and Pascha:
For information on the Calendar of the Orthodox Church: