East Texan Orthodox Christians began their observance of Lent this week with special services and fasting.
Orthodox churches are on a different calendar than Western Churches. Catholics and Protestants are getting ready to celebrate Easter and the end of Lent on March 31.
“This is an incredible service — my favorite of the entire year,” said Terry Cowan, parishioner at St. John of Damascus Orthodox Church in Tyler.
The rest of Lent involves a fast — abstaining from all food for the first three days, if the parishioner can do it safely. The rest of the Orthodox Lent involves abstaining from meat, eggs, dairy, wine and oil, Father John Mikita, priest at St. John of Damascus, said.
Father Michael Hull, priest at Holy Apostles Orthodox Church in Bullard, said, “During Lent, we focus on what the Lord has done for us. Forgiveness is the symbol of God”s blessing. People don”t seem to realize forgiveness was always available. Who knows what would have happened if Adam and Eve said, “We messed up, we're sorry.'"
At “Pascha,” the Orthodox Easter, parishioners bring baskets filled with things they”ve wanted to eat during Lent. A “tomb” is constructed inside the church and covered with flowers, Christine Mikita, the priest”s wife, said. Pascha is May 5.