By Aboona Anthony J. Salim, pastor of St. Theresa Parish, Brockton MA
Many of us from childhood have learned a basic idea about what Lent is all about. For example, we think that we do something during this Season in imitation of Christ’s suffering. This is good, as far as it goes. Our self-denial in imitation of Christ makes us more mature Christians and strengthens us for the Christian “battle” against the very real power of the Evil One, a power that is once again quite evident in our day. Therefore, the Eastern Traditions, of which we are one, have known this time as the “Great Fast.” 
Ash Monday 2011 at St. Anthony in Lawrence with the Pastor,
Abouna Peter Azar, and Associate Pastor, Abouna Vincent. 

To this day Lebanese Maronites commonly call these days leading up to Easter as simply, “The Fast.” (Ask any of those born in the Middle East the Arabic word for Lent.) What many have never learned is that Great Lent was also seen in the early Church—and revived correctly in the Roman Tradition—as one piece of a whole process whereby men and women who were never baptized prepare themselves for entrance into the Community of the Saved, that is, the Church. These people are known as “catechumens,” as they are learning about Baptism, Chrismation and the Eucharist. For those in the process Great Lent was the “Period of Enlightenment.” Enlightened, they looked forward eager to the Easter Vigil to be baptized.

The Sundays of this Season in our Maronite Church are:

Cana Sunday/Entrance into Great Lent
Sunday of the Man with Leprosy
Sunday of the Hemorrhaging Woman
Sunday of the Prodigal Son
Sunday of the Man Who Was Paralyzed
Sunday of the Man Who Was Blind
Hosanna Sunday