Case Western Reserve OCF Chapter
most students on campus were out and about, enveloping themselves in the final
hours of Valentine's Day 2010, Orthodox Christian Fellowship members were
making phone calls, rounding up members for a very late get-together... and,
not-to-mention, waiting for July 6th to celebrate the Priest- Martyr
Saint Valentine. An hour before
midnight, the chapter gathered together on the third floor of the heated
Village residence hall; as we made our way into a reserved room, we held a
couple Orthodox Study Bibles, new and old, as well as some portable icons in
our arms-one of Christ the Angel of Great Council, one of the Theotokos and
Christ, and one of Saint John the Forerunner.
preparing together for Great Lent-we and OCF students across the
continent. This was our second time
participating, so we registered early to get a time when we would be
available. Having held Forgiveness
Vespers at our last weekly meeting, we were excited and prepared to welcome the
first day of the Great Fast with unceasing prayer and repentance. As the icons were carefully set against the
wall on the east side of the room, we closed the door to keep out the noise and
quickly perused the stapled service packets.
I flipped through mine to find litanies, verses, and prescribed psalmody. Behind my packet, I grasped a list of the
Saints to be commemorated and the names of all our past and present group
members, specifically the baptismal names for those with them.
clergy available to us that night, we began the "Readers' Version" of the
service. We first prayed the Trisagion
in unison, moving onto Psalms 83, 84, and 85.
This led up to the major part of the service: the reading of first
through twenty-ninth Psalm. A different
set of Psalms was prescribed for every six hours from 6:00pm on the 14th
to 6:00pm on the 15th. Our
readings included somewhat darker Psalms, pleading with God in troubled
times. I glanced around at our members;
some stared intently on the icons, others had eyes closed. Many of us had fought some unprecedented
struggles in the past year, and we listened quite intently to David's song,
praying along with him for the mercy of the Father and the defeat of the Evil
One's presence in our lives. After
having completed the prescribed Psalms, we then prayed the Lenten verses and
the Theotokion of the day, contemplating the mystery of a virgin giving birth
to our God. We continued with petitions
for mercy, which called on the remembrance of the forefathers and Patriarchs;
the Trisagion; the chanting of the Troparion, which looked to the Crucifixion
and the words of Dismus the Goodly-Minded Thief; and the Prayer of the Hours,
which is a petition for sanctification, cleansing, and union with God the
anticipation of midnight, we solemnly recited the prayer of Saint Ephraim,
making prostrations in the small space we had after each verse. We prayed the Trisagion once more, followed
by a prayer of Saint Basil the Great, asking God to renew us. A Kontakion to the Mother of God followed,
along with the litanies, which included a petition for the "mercy, life, peace,
heath, salvation and visitation, pardon and forgiveness" of the sins of every
member of OCF of each of the over 250 chapters-a list of locations that was
admittedly surprising, as well as comforting.
With the completion of the litanies, including those for each member of
our own chapter, the service came to a close, finishing up a few minutes after
midnight. I smiled a little as we went
forward to kiss the icons against the wall.
I felt strong for the upcoming weeks, knowing that God would be with us,
and I was confident that He would lead our OCF to a beautiful and triumphant
Pascha and an amazing completion to the spring semester.