Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Triodion — The pre-Lenten Season

In the Byzantine Tradition, Lent is preceded by a season sometimes called “Triodion” (literally, “three odes”, due to the use of certain tones in chant and particular hymns sung during the period). Triodion is a time to prepare for the Lenten fast; a time to contemplate the great mysteries of the human condition; a time to consider the reality of who we are before God and the Great Mercy of our Lord in claiming us as his own.

The season begins next week with the Sunday of the Pharisee and the Publican (this year falling on 28 February). In the following week, there is no fasting of any kind. Instead, we meditate on the fact that even spiritually good things, like fasting, can too easily become causes for pride and sin.

The following week is the Sunday of the Prodigal Son. During that week, we only keep a fast on Wednesday and Friday.

Then comes the Sunday of the Last Judgment, also called Meatfare Sunday. Those who plan to keep a strict fast will refrain from eating meat from the Monday after Meatfare until Pascha (Easter).

The final week of Triodion begins with Forgiveness Sunday, also known as Cheesefare. This Sunday is the last time the dairy and poultry products are consumed until Pascha.

[N.B., the "fare" suffix in Meatfare and Cheesefare indicates that these are days in which we "say farewell" to meats and/or cheese products. Fasting from these foodstuffs begins on the day following the particular Sunday in question.]

Unlike the Roman Rite, in the Byzantine Tradition Lent begins on the day following Forgiveness Sunday: a day known as Clean Monday.

More information will be presented about the Triodion season and Great Lent itself in the days and weeks to come.

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