Today, February 21, we celebrate the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee and begin the use of the Triodion (the service book of the Orthodox Church that provides the texts for the divine services for the pre-Lenten weeks of preparation, Great Lent, and Holy Week).
‘Open unto me, O Giver of Life, the gates of repentance . . .’ sings the Church at Matins for the first of the four Sundays which prepare us for Lent. Indeed, this Sunday could be thought of as a gate: a gate through which we enter the sacred period which leads us on to Easter; a gate which opens into that atmosphere of repentance, to that life of repentance which Lent should bring to each one of us. But we must remember that the word “penitence” or “repentance” is a translation of the Greek gospel term metanoia: and that this means “change of spirit”. Much more is involved than the observance of some kind of outward repent ance. What is asked of us is radical change, renewal, conversion.The Year of Grace of the Lord: A Scriptural and Liturgical Commentary on the Calendar of the Orthodox Church by Fr. Lev Gillet