Bulgarian kids dressed for Lazaritsa (Lazarus Day)
Tomorrow is Palm Sunday… Holy Week is upon us. Technically, Lent ended on Friday… Lazarus Day and Palm Sunday are out-of-sequence… Holy Week is a separate entity in our liturgical and popular life. In the Orthodox countries, many people only really stick to the full regimen of abstinence during the first week of Lent (Clean Week) and during Holy Week. This is what’s actually out there. Of course, more than you might think do abstain from meat, eggs, and dairy products… but very, very few keep the fullness of the abstinence rules (which are monastic, not secular, after all). Therefore, the konvertsy caterwauling about people “not fasting” isn’t only out-of-place, it’s not in the Mind of the Church. The late Patriarch Pimen Izvekov blessed seminarians and lay workers at seminaries to eat fish during Lent… some loudmouths were causing trouble (just like they do here in the diaspora). In fact, even most monastics don’t keep the full rigour of the Fast… most monasteries require a monk or nun to ask permission to do so, and that permission isn’t always forthcoming.
So… Holy Week is upon us… Christ goes forth to His Voluntary Passion and Death… to culminate in the Feast of Feasts, the Festival of Festivals… Holy Easter… Holy Pascha… whatever you call it, it’s the Centre of Our Faith.