SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19: The countdown to Great Lent is coming to a peak for Orthodox Christians, and partial fasting begins tomorrow; today is the last day until Pascha that devotees consume meat, fish and poultry, and thus it’s known as Meatfare Sunday. Also known as the Sunday of Last Judgment, today’s liturgy focuses on Christ’s parable of the Last Judgment, for which He says that salvation will depend upon deeds and the love shown for one another. (Go deeper into today’s Scripture with the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.) Today is the third Sunday of the pre-Lenten season and the third Sunday using the Lenten Triodion—a liturgical book containing services for this season.
Orthodox Christians undergo a strict fast during Great Lent in preparation for Pascha (Easter)—a fast that allows a focus on God—and preparing for that strict fast requires weeks of mental preparation. (Learn more, and hear a reflection on today’s liturgy, courtesy of the Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America.) During both pre-Lent and Great Lent, Orthodox Christians recall Scripture: “Man does not live by bread alone.” The faithful turn their attention to spiritual needs instead of physical desires, and going without encourages the desire to give to others who have less. (OrthodoxWiki has details.) Perhaps most importantly, these Christians attempt to fast from sin, too, during Great Lent.