On 18 March 2013, His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church celebrated the service of the canon of Saint Andrew of Crete in the Patriarchal Cathedral. The canon service began at 16.00 hours, in the Cathedral, with hundreds of faithful attending. Because we are during the Lent period, the Primate of our Church is wearing a black cassock and a white kamelaykion, the well known insignia of the patriarchal dignity.
In the sermon delivered in the end, the Patriarch of Romania pointed out that the purpose of the Lent is to strengthen our relationship with God: “We began the period of the Lent of the Holy Easter which is a period of preparation for meeting more often the Christ crucified and risen. The purpose of the Lent is to strengthen our relationship with God, have our sins forgiven and feel the joy of the presence of His merciful love in our life. Thus, we fast not because fasting is an obligation or constraint, but because we love God more than the gifts we received from Him. Fasting is a constraint from food and sins. It means a replacement of the food of animal origin with the vegetal one more suitable for prayer according to the experience of the Holy Fathers. When fasting, people want to show that they love God-the-Giver much more than the temporary limited gifts, namely to give up the material food in order to increase the spiritual food, because we forget about God whenever we are fed up. We forget that good health and everything related to our life are gifts of God. During the Lent period we try not to be enslaved by the material things, but to find our freedom again in the relationship of love, obedience and conversation with God. So, fasting is not a loss, but a change of priorities. First of all we want to be fed with the loving presence of Christ in our love.”
His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel has also shown that the Lent period is a school of pious love: “In the 7th century Saint Maxim the Confessor gave the definition of love saying that “love is that mood of the soul which prefers God instead of any other creature of God”. Thus, we really love when we love God more than anybody and anything else in this world. Therefore, the Lent period is a school of pious love, a school of the love admitting that all our life is a gift of God, that the air we breathe, the water we drink, the sun that brings us warmth, the fruits of the earth are gifts of God, but very often we consume the gifts received from God and forget about the Giver. Thus, the Lent period teaches us how to be free of the matter in order to be fed spiritually and be less enslaved by the biological life and free in the spiritual or theological mood of our existence.”
The liturgical answers were given by Nicolae Lungu chorus of the Romanian Patriarchate.
During the first week of the Lent and at the Matins of the Thursday of the 5th week the religious service of the great canon is celebrated in the Orthodox Church. The purpose of this canon written by Saint Andrew of Crete (+ cca 740 AD) is to remind us of our sinful state, of the need to call the name of Jesus Christ in our heart and of the importance of repentance in our life. The content of the great canon is a spiritual one, a deep dialogue of the sinful man with his own conscience, which draws his attention to the things done.