Question: Is it true that it is not allowed to read akathists during the Great Lent?
Answer: According to the rubrics, the services during the Great Lent are special. However, we do serve several akathists in our Convent during the Great Lent. We read akathists to the Pantanassa icon of the Mother of God because there are so many ill people who need prayer, especially during the Lent. It is not a solemn or festive prayer. It is a call for help. We also read an akathist to the Inexhaustible Chalice icon of the Mother of God.
If your heart wants to read an akathist at home, if you find it useful, you can read it but be watchful.
Question: What does total abstinence mean?
Answer: Is it when you are not allowed to drink even water, or is it something deeper than that?
I believe it is deeper than that. First of all, abstinence means vigilance of one’s mind and heart, and then, of course, abstinence from certain kinds of food. For instance, total abstinence is recommended during the First Week of the Lent, when an individual is strongly advised not to eat anything till Wednesday or Friday. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. (Matthew 19: 12).
Anyway, abstinence consists not only of food. It entails control over our thoughts, eyes, ears, and tongues.
Question: What should we be thinking about when we approach the Crucifix located in the centre of a church during the Veneration of the Cross Week?
Answer: The Cross is a weapon against the devil. It is the lighthouse that helps us find our way in the sea of earthly troubles. The Cross is love that enables us to live and learn to love one another. The Cross is the mountaintop of love: we carry our little crosses and attempt to ascend it like our personal Golgotha to crucify our flesh with the affections and lusts (Cf. Galatians 5: 24) and to be born into the new life.
Why are these kids even born? Man is made in the image and likeness of God, isn’t he? Essentially, what a human being must do here on earth is to get to know God and get closer to him.