During the period of Great Lent, the community faithful attended the Arevakal and Hesgoom Lenten services and partook in the inspirational Holy Mysteries they contain.

The Armenian Apostolic Church established the traditions of Lent through canons based on the teaching of the Gospels and apostles. Apostolic Canon #8 reads: “The Apostles ordered and affirmed that the 40 days be set aside as days of abstinence from evil doing, from sin, and from food, preceding the day of the passion of our Saviour”. The true experience of Lent rests on a sturdy tripod of prayer, abstinence and charity. During Great Lent, the Armenian Church conducts services that reflect this spirit. They are part of the cycle of seven daily hours of worship that were practiced in monasteries and are now used, especially during Great Lent, to help us restore a purer and more joyous relationship with God.

The Peace Service, performed late in the evening, contains prayers for peace and praises to God, such as the following: “Thank you for passing this day without trouble and reminding us that You are always with us in the face of trial and temptation”

The Rest Service (Hesgoom), offered before retiring for the night, requests that God watch over us throughout the night. This service contains the eloquent and beloved prayer of twenty four stanzas by St Nersess the Graceful.

The Sunrise Service (Arevakal), performed at daybreak, celebrates God as the giver of the morning light and the Light of Salvation.

Throughout the period of Great Lent, the altar curtain of the church sanctuary is closed, symbolising man’s expulsion from paradise. The main altar represents the kingdom and paradise, where we were always in God’s presence and in communion with Him.

By closing the curtain, we are called to repentance and to deep spiritual reflection on how much we need God’s presence in our lives.

At the conclusion of Great Lent, when we celebrate Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the church offers the service of the “Opening of the Doors.” During this beautiful and solemn service, the faithful ask God to open the gates of His mercy and receive us back into His kingdom.

The six Sundays of Lent take us through time, from the dawn of Creation to the triumphant return of Christ. The Lenten journey’s central message – to renew and repair our relationship with God through penitence, fasting, prayer and Christian witness – is reinforced through our beautiful Lenten sharagans as well as the daily Scripture readings.