Clean Wednesday – A Time of Spiritual Stillness (Trimeron)

We have already deeply embarked on a forty-day journey towards the Great and Passionate Week and towards the Glorious Resurrection. Mystically, we travel as the Israelite people, delivered from Babylonian captivity, journeyed through the desert towards the promised land; we ascend in spirit as the Old Testament righteous, the great Moses, climbed Mount Sinai to meet God; we strive in repentance as the people of Nineveh sat in humility, fasting, and meekness due to God’s warning through the prophet Jonah of destruction. And as our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, fasted for forty days and nights in the desert, so we, the sinners, have entered the deserts of our souls in fasting, repentance, self-examination, hunger, and thirst for the living God, ascending the mountain of virtues. Today, in this first Wednesday of the Holy Fast, as we conclude the three-day complete abstinence (trimeron), we tasted the sweet Lord Christ in Holy Communion at the Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts and preserved Him as a pledge and sustenance on this arduous, steep, and exhausting path to Christ’s and our personal resurrection, when He will be given to us in fullness.

The wondrous mystique of the Bigorski temple in the semi-darkness; the numerous candles and lamps like stars in the clear night sky; the fragrant incense that evokes heavenly sensations; the penitential and touching hymns and readings, especially from the Great Penitential Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete; the deep, pleasant, and penetrating voice of our Elder, filled with godliness, seriousness, and grace; the prayer ropes, cassocks, and images of the black-robed monks, and this year, the church filled with the prayerful repentance of brave and god-longing souls, are just moments from the penitential atmosphere of fasting and prayer in the Precursor’s Monastery, unparalleled in the world.

Our beloved Elder and Abbot, Bishop Partenij of Antania, once said: “This is the time when the depth and beauty of Orthodox worship are most revealed. For this wondrous compilation of prayers was crafted by divine people who first received and experienced them themselves, then passed them on to us as the most precious spiritual treasure. This is a period of special spiritual struggle, akin to Jacob’s struggle with God (Genesis 32:24-30), where we fight through intensified endeavors, through prayer, to see God.”

May God accept the prayers and ascetic efforts of this blessed trimeron and send His mercy to this Holy Monastery and those within, and to the entire pious Christian people, who honor God and hold the holy faith steadfastly.

The souls of many brave and ascetic-loving youths

shone with divine light and beautiful purity,

singing to God from their hearts penitential ballads

for a national blessing and clear grace.