Monday, March 9, 2015

"Lent is time of ‘joy’ for Eastern Catholics": Mother Theodora quoted in Catholic News Service article!

Lent is time of ‘joy’ for Eastern Catholics

By Laura Ieraci
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY  — “Joy” is not a word people usually associate with strict fasting and penance — unless they are Eastern-rite Catholics.

In the Eastern church, the penitential period that prepares believers to celebrate Easter, is called “Great Lent,” and its prayers invite the faithful to recognize their “need for forgiveness” and to “delight in the joy” of the fast.

Mother Theodora, the “hegumena” or abbess of the Byzantine Catholic Christ the Bridegroom Monastery in Burton, Ohio, describes the Lenten disposition as “bright sadness.”

“We recognize our weakness and sinfulness, but rejoice in the mercy of God,” she told Catholic News Service.

Unlike Lent for Latin-rite Catholics, Great Lent does not begin on Ash Wednesday, but after Forgiveness Vespers. For Eastern churches using the Gregorian calendar, the vespers are held on the Sunday before the Roman church’s Ash Wednesday. During Forgiveness Vespers, the clergy and the congregation ask forgiveness of each other, one person at a time, for offenses they committed, knowingly or not, and exchange a kiss of peace.

While all Catholics, East and West, are called to fasting, prayer and almsgiving during Lent, fasting and prayer are accentuated and lived more intensely in the Eastern church.

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