General Election - Find Out More

The Great Lent

This weekend is important for Orthodox Churches, who follow the Julian Calendar (as opposed to the Gregorian calendar used by Western Churches) to date the seasons of Lent and Easter. Thus, while Western Churches will mark the fifth Sunday of Lent on Sunday (17 March), for Orthodox Christians it will be ‘Forgiveness Sunday.’ On this day, based on the Gospel reading Matthew 6:14-21, the focus is on forgiving each other, fasting and building up treasures in heaven. Forgiveness Sunday is also known as ‘Cheesefare Sunday,’ being the last day on which to eat dairy products before the season of Lent begins (roughly equating to the Western ‘Shrove Tuesday’).

For Orthodox Churches, Great Lent begins on ‘Clean Monday’ (18 March 2024). Great Lent runs to the evening of Holy Saturday (4 May), giving way to Pascha (Easter) Sunday, 5 May. In the Orthodox tradition, the 40 days of fasting count continuously from Clean Monday until Friday 26 April, unlike Western Churches not exempting Sundays as feast days. From ‘Lazarus Saturday’ (27 April), ‘Palm Sunday’ (28 April) and through Holy Week, an additional, more intense period of fasting prepares for the joy of the resurrection at Easter.

During Lent, Orthodox believers abstain from eating meat, avoid eggs and dairy foods, wine and fish which has a backbone. Eating fish is, however, permissible on the Feast of the Annunciation to the Virgin Mary (25 March) and on Palm Sunday (28 April). Fasting is more than simply abstaining from eating certain foods. It entails moderation and restraint in all activities; contemplation and penitence; increased prayer and devotions; study of the Scriptures and the writings of the Church Fathers; and greater commitment to charity and good works.

Birmingham/Solihull is home to Coptic (Egyptian), Ecumenical, Eritrean, Ethiopian, Greek, Indian Romanian, Russian and Serbian Orthodox Churches. We pray God’s blessing on them as they prepare for the Great Fast of Lent.

St Peter’s Saltley Trust

From April 2024, the St Peter’s Saltley Trust is to dedicate one third of its annual grants budget to funding…

Read More...

Contemporary Martyrs Day

On 15 February each year, the Coptic Orthodox Church worldwide commemorates the lives of its contemporary martyrs on the anniversary…

Read More...

New National Police Chaplain

In early January 2024, Pastor Matthew Hopley began work as the National Police Chaplain. Matthew has been involved with Police…

Read More...