“Of all the Lenten rules, one is unique to Orthodoxy, and so gives us a key to its liturgical spirit: it forbids the celebration of the Divine Liturgy on weekdays in Lent, as incompatible with fasting, the sole exception being the Feast of the Annunciation. But so as not to deprive the faithful of “the food of immortality”, the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts is prescribed, that is, a “Eucharistic synaxis” without the Consecration. The festal nature of the Eucharist is thus reserved for Saturdays and Sundays in Lent, while on the days of total fasting, Wednesdays and Fridays, the people receive the Holy Gifts that were sanctified on the previous Sunday.
The Presanctified was from the start an evening service, Communion following Vespers, to be conducted after the Ninth Hour, i.e. three o’clock in the afternoon. The daylong fast was thus broken early in the evening, much as the total fast on Sunday is broken after Communion. It is likely that this service was not always confined to Lent, but was common to all of the Church’s fasting seasons. However, permeated as it is with the “bright sadness” of Lent, it has taken on a special beauty and solemnity. As we pray for the Catechumens, those being made ready for Holy Baptism on Easter Saturday, we sense a direct connection with the Christian Church of the early centuries, and understand the initial character of Lent as preparation for Baptism and for Easter.”
Please do not limit our Lenten journey together to only Sundays! Experience the fullness of the Lenten fast by joining with us on Wednesday evenings, beginning at 7 pm, for Presanctified Liturgy.
But it is the Prayers of the Faithful that really illuminate the Lenten road, giving us a fuller understanding of the meaning and purpose of the Lenten discipline:
“Liberate all our senses from killing passion, setting over them as benevolent sovereign our inner reason. Let the eye be averted from every evil sight, and the ear be deaf to idle talk. May the tongue be purged of unseemly speech. Purify these lips that praise You, Lord. Make our hands abstain from wicked deeds, doing only such things as are pleasing to You, thus sealing with Your grace all our members, and our mind.”