The Liturgical Cycle
The church provides a cycle of that supports our spiritual development. It is centered around the feast days of Christ and Mother Mary. Each period there are new hymns and prayers to help us remember the event being celebrated as well as periods of fasting and feasting. Below are shown the major Feast days of the Church.
In the next chart you can see the entire annual cycle. It begins with the nativity of our Lord which is preceded with a fast period. Then followed by a period of feasting and ends with Epiphany where Christ was Baptized by Saint john the Baptist and began His ministry. Then, we have the period of Great Lent that precedes Holy Week and Pascha. This is a time the Church Fathers have set aside for us to withdraw from many of the worldly cares to devote more time to our prayer and liturgical life. It is a period of strict fasting. Holy Week is the most intense period of the church year with many services and strict fasting. Then comes the feast of feasts, Pascha. This is a great feast of the Resurrection and is followed by a period feasting. This period of celebration is capped by the celebration of Pentecost when the Apostles were empowered and sent to “all nations” to spread the Good News.
Then there is the weekly cycle with fasting on Wednesday and Friday.
Beyond this is a daily cycle of prayer.
Living the Orthodox life involves honoring God’s time. In this day and age we are all into time management. That is management of your own time. But we need to broaden our thinking and to think about God’s time. We need to make plans for daily prayer, for the Wednesday and Friday fasts, for the keeping of the Sabbath and the demands of the Liturgical cycle of the Church. Our time management needs to be modified to accommodate God’s time. Orthodoxy is a way of life.