GOD‑BEARING APOSTLES, CHRIST WHO IS THE VINE BROUGHT YOU FORTH AS CLUSTERS OF GRAPES
GIVING THE WORLD THE NEW WINE OF SALVATION!
THEREFORE, I ENTREAT YOU, DELIVER ME FROM THE DRUNKENNESS OF SENSUAL PLEASURES; GRANT MY SOUL TEARS OF COMPUNCTION ON THIS HOLY DAY OF THE FAST, THAT I MAY GAIN LIFE AND SALVATION!
The hymns above and below are taken from the Triodion from Thursday, 2nd Week of Great Lent. Above, the hymn stays with a theme – vine, grape clusters and wine versus drunkenness which are metaphors for Christ, the apostles and salvation/sacrament versus sensual pleasures. There is a beautiful and natural gift from God to us for our salvation, or we can choose like Adam to use God’s gifts for selfish pleasure rather than for communion with the Creator.
Below the hymn puts forth a theme not overly stressed during Great Lent in the Orthodox Church: repentance isn’t attained only by enumerating our sins in confession. Rather we can apply ourselves to doing good deeds as a sign that we have repented of our self-centeredness.
IF WE SET OUR HANDS TO DOING GOOD, THE EFFORT OF LENT WILL BE A TIME OF REPENTANCE FOR US, A MEANS TO ETERNAL LIFE, FOR NOTHING QUITE SAVES THE SOUL AS MUCH AS GIVING TO THOSE IN NEED. ALMS, INSPIRED BY FASTING, DELIVER MAN FROM DEATH. LET US EMBRACE THIS, FOR IT HAS NO EQUAL; IT IS SUFFICIENT TO SAVE OUR SOULS!
The hymn has very strong words in it: “nothing” does more for our soul than giving charity to the needy! Rather than obsessing over food during Lent, we should be striving to give to those in need. We should spend more time and energy on providing for the needy than merely denying ourselves food. Alms-giving is to be inspired by fasting, but it is the charitable giving not the fasting which deliver us from death for this is true love and obedience to Christ’s commandments. Giving to charity saves our souls by being the sign we really have turned away from spending money on selfish pleasure and wish rather to love the neighbor in need as the Lord teaches us in the Gospel. This is the purpose of Great Lent!
Lenten fasting isn’t achieved by providing gourmet Lenten meals or buying more expensive organic foods. It is rather achieved by spending less time and money on our selves and instead giving that money to the poor. If you are spending more money on groceries during Lent or spending more time preparing meals, you might have missed the point of Lent: Spend time and money on the needy.