Changing Our Habits in Lent

Changing Our Habits in Lent

I’ve noticed a pattern in my own life. In times of transition, like the start of a semester or the start of summer, it takes time to adjust to being in that new situation and to remember how to live on that particular schedule and in that environment. But once I complete that adjustment and establish a routine, it becomes very hard to change some habits. For example, early in the semester I may need to stay up late to do homework since I’m trying to remember how to manage my time. Then a few weeks later, when I set myself up to go to bed early, I feel like I can afford to waste time on Facebook or playing games on my phone, and I end up going to bed no earlier than normal.

I feel like this struggle was best exemplified last semester. Normally, I am involved in several organizations on campus and have very little free time that I do not have to allot to studies. However, last semester I was studying abroad, temporarily freeing me from all those commitments. I had more free time than I knew what to do with. I got in the habit of spending a lot of my time on YouTube or Netflix. So later in the semester, when I had to do a school project, make travel plans, or complete some task, I could not get myself to do it, despite my abundance of time. My habits of just doing whatever I wanted with my time were too deeply ingrained in me.

Often, at this point in the semester, there is at least one bad habit that we’ve established that we would like to change. For this, I believe Lent comes at a perfect time for us (and note that the Nativity Fast comes at a similar time in the fall semester). We have an invitation from the Church to focus on our habits, on the routine that we have established for ourselves, and really analyze it. What are we doing that works towards our salvation? What are we doing that takes us away from God? How are we succeeding or failing in our relationships? How well are we fulfilling our various roles as students, friends, employees, relatives, teammates, and Christians?

Painting by Viktor Kudrin

Painting by Viktor Kudrin

The reality is that we can conduct this analysis any time. But the beauty of this time in particular is that we are not alone. Perhaps we find encouragement from our friends that we see at OCF meetings, perhaps we find it from our friends’ Facebook posts that we know only the Orthodox truly understand. But the idea of Lent is not that I grow closer to God by myself, but that we do so as a community.

So will we continue to let our bad habits rule our lives, or will we allow God to become “Lord and Master of my life,” as the Lenten prayer of St. Ephraim states? I challenge all of us to fight against our bad habits through growth in the Church. To me this feels impossible, but I gain comfort from knowing that I am not alone in this struggle. I have the support of the Church and my friends, as well as the choir of the saints and God Himself, who holds the whole world in the palm of his hand.

May God bless the arrival of Lent and the struggles that we will engage in during this time. Amen.


HeadshotPaul Murray is a junior psychology major and Spanish minor at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. He is a member of Saint George Antiochian Orthodox Church in New Kensington, PA where he chants and helps direct the choir. He has served as a counselor and the music coordinator for the Greek Metropolis of Pittsburgh Summer Camp for the past two years and will be a counselor at the Antiochian Village this coming summer.
Get Ready–Lent Is Coming

Get Ready–Lent Is Coming

Our Christian brothers in the West started Lent on Wednesday, but we’re over here just chilling.

But then you realize Zacchaeus Sunday is already this Sunday.

Meaning there are only four more weeks until Great Lent starts.

It’s time to begin making the most out of the non-fasting days you have left.

And to start getting in shape for all those prostrations.

You take these next four weeks to live it up before spending the next 40 days in prayer and silence.

And to begin gathering up the spiritual books you want to read this Lent.

It’s also important to finish all the food in your fridge you can’t eat once Lent to starts.

Use your time wisely, because Lent is coming.

 

New Podcast! Orthodox Apologetics: Fasting

New Podcast! Orthodox Apologetics: Fasting

OCFPodcastIn the latest episode of the OCF podcast, Media Student Leader Matthew Monos continues his conversation with Fr. Brendan Pelphrey about sharing Orthodoxy with others. In this episode, they talk about Orthodox fasting traditions, especially in relation to the Nativity as well as the fasting traditions of other Christians.

Click here to listen!

10 Awkward Moments of Being Orthodox on a College Campus

10 Awkward Moments of Being Orthodox on a College Campus

 1. You’re the only one awake on a Sunday morning.

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2. And you go to bed early on Saturday night so you can get up for Liturgy.

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3. Dorms make it difficult to find a quiet space to say your prayers.

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4. And they don’t let you burn incense.

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5. It’s also really difficult to hang up an icon with 3M Command strips.

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6. There’s free pizza everywhere…but it’s Lent so you can’t have any

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7. You bless your food in the cafeteria before you eat.

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8. You miss classes because of Holy Week and Pascha…but you get Western Good Friday off.

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9. When you tell people you’re Orthodox, they think you mean Orthodox Jewish.

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10. And when you tell them, no, Orthodox Christian, they still ask you if you believe in Jesus.

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What are your awkward moments on campus?

16 Ways You Might Be Orthodox

16 Ways You Might Be Orthodox

  1. You check what day of the week it is before deciding what to eat.
  2. And if it’s not a Wednesday or Friday, you’re definitely going with meat.
  3. Your saint’s day is a bigger deal than your birthday.
  4. People ask you why you cross yourself backwards.
  5. Church camp is the most exciting part of your summer.
  6. The service routinely starts 15 minutes late and lasts 2 ½ hours…but no one complains.
  7. And you know to wear your comfortable shoes because you’ll be standing the whole time.
  8. Prostrations are your preferred form of exercise.
  9. Sunday brunch isn’t a thing.
  10. You wear scarves around your head, not your neck.
  11. You don’t flinch when a priest throws water at you.
  12. You’ve been chanting in church and made up how to say some of the more complex names in the Bible.
  13. You never celebrate Easter on the same day as everyone else.
  14. The priest says “Let us depart in peace” but the service still has 20 minutes.
  15. Before you pray, you say a prayer.
  16. As soon as you get home from Liturgy, you take a PLN.
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Is there another way you “know you’re Orthodox” that we missed? Comment below!