Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”
The Journey to the Cross and Resurrection of Christ
When Abram was ninety-nine years old the Lord appeared to Abram, and said to him “I am God Almighty, walk before Me, and be blameless. And I will make my covenant between me and You and will multiply you exceedingly.” Genesis 17: 1-2
Good morning Prayer Team!
A covenant is an agreement made between God and His people. God made covenants in the Old Testament and the New Testament. One covenant was established with Abraham (who was known as Abram before God changed his name). God desired Abram to walk in His ways, and He made a covenant with Abram, that if he accepted God and walked in His ways, God would make Abraham father of many nations and multiply his descendants, and eventually send them a Messiah to redeem them from their sins. We are all children of Abraham, we are some of these descendants which God promised him. And Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah, who has redeemed us from our sins. It is up to each generation, to each person, to renew this covenant with God, to decide to follow after the Lord. This is our charge and our purpose in life, to follow Christ, through this life and into eternal life.
A great way to find spiritual renewal during Lent is to make a “covenant” with the Lord, a promise between you and God, to grow towards Him this Lent. What follows are some suggestions of things to do this Lent, so that when Pascha comes, you have made some progress in your spiritual life. I encourage you to print out today’s message and fill it out before Lent begins. Spend the few days left before Lent making your preparations so that when Lent begins, you are ready to “hit the ground running.” This covenant is between you and God, not anyone else. So do something that will both challenge you and edify you.
The Lenten Covenant
Check as many as apply under each topic. You should (but need not) answer every topic. This is a matter of your own conscience and areas where you want to grow spiritually.
- Concerning my prayer life, each day I will commit to:
_____One 5- minute period of un-interrupted prayer
_____One five minute period every morning of un-interrupted prayer
_____One five minute period every evening of un-interrupted prayer
_____One five minute period each morning AND evening of un-interrupted prayer
Other: Write in here
- Concerning Worship
_____I’ll commit to attending Divine Liturgy each Sunday
_____I’ll commit to attending ONE additional service each week during each week of Lent
_____I’ll commit to attending AT LEAST 1 Compline, 1 Pre-Sanctified Liturgy and 1 Salutations Service
_____I’ll commit to preparing and receiving Holy Communion at least once a week during Lent.
Concerning Holy Week, I’ll commit to:
_____Every Evening Service
_____One service each Day
_____Specifically Holy Thursday—the Passion of Christ
_____Other (write in here)
- Concerning Fasting, I’ll commit to:
____Level One Fast from meat on Wednesday and Fridays and during Holy Week
____Level Two Fast from meat and fish on Wednesdays and Friday and during Holy Week
____Level Three Fast from meat the entirety of Lent and Holy Week
____Level Four Fast from meat and fish the entirety of Lent and Holy Week
____Level Five Level Four and eliminate dairy products during Holy Week.
____Level Six Level Four and eliminate dairy products on Wednesdays and Fridays and during Holy Week
____Level Seven Level Four plus eliminate dairy products during all of Lent and Holy Week
____Level Eight Level Seven plus eliminate oil and wine during Holy Week
____Level Nine The Strict Fast-no meat, fish, dairy products, wine or oil during the entirety of Lent
___I can’t fast from food for health reasons. I will give up the following: (Write answer here)
**Note-alcohol should be consumed at a very minimum during Lent, and abstained from totally if possible. Also, activities should be curtailed, socializing a little more sedate, no dancing and loud music. During Holy Week, all unnecessary activities aside from work and children should be curtailed, so that we can focus on the Holy Days of the Passion of Christ.
- Concerning reading the Bible, I’ll commit to:
_____Reading one chapter a day from some book
_____Reading the four Gospels
_____Reading the Psalms
_____Other (Write in)
- Concerning confession,
____I’ll commit to going once during this Lenten period
____I’ve been recently to confession and don’t feel the need to go at this time.
____I don’t believe in going to confession
____I’ll get more information on this sacrament and then make a decision.
- Concerning Holy Communion, I will try to be prepared to receive
____Every Sunday and at Wednesday Pre-Sanctified
____At least every other Sunday
- Concerning bad habits, here are one or two or a few bad habits I’ll watch and change this Lent
____Not giving good effort at work/school/marriage/children
Others: Write in here
- One spiritual goal I want to commit to once Pascha has passed is:
Lord, help me to be successful in this task I am about to undertake. May it be for the growth of my soul and the improvement of my spiritual life. Help me to keep all these commitments I have made. May I grow closer to You this Lent and through this covenant I am making with You. Amen.
After you’ve filled out your covenant, place it somewhere you’ll see it and on Monday, begin fulfilling your covenant as we begin the Great Lent.
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