Canon of Saint Andrew the Cretan at the Romanian Patriarchal Cathedral


The Fourth Day of the Canon of Saint Andrew the Cretan at the Patriarchal Cathedral

On the fourth day of the Holy Easter Lent the last part of the Canon of Saint Andrew the Cretan was celebrated at the Patriarchal Cathedral by His Grace Varsanufie Prahoveanul, Assistant Bishop to the Archdiocese of Bucharest, in the presence of many faithful.

The Great Canon is the most important hymn of repentance of the Orthodox Church, said His Grace in the sermon delivered.

“It is a canon which comprises 266 stanzas mentioning many episodes and characters of the Old and New Testament and drawing the attention of our soul that many times we resemble those who made mistakes and so that it is necessary for us to improve ourselves and appeal to the mercy of God. In fact, this invocation God, have mercy!, this refrain sung after each stanza of this Canon, accompanied by a reverence creates a communion among all those present in the church, a communion of repentance.”

At the beginning of the Lent we have some other chants and religious services too, which wake up and urge our soul to repentance, also said His Grace Varsanufie Prahoveanul.

“We must also implement all these things in our life and especially the mercy of God to which we appeal when we are merciful too, trying to imitate everything Christ did and especially observing His commandments. We must fast not only with our body, but also with our soul which means not to do bad deeds and take more care of our soul talking with our father confessors more often because they have received from God the power to forgive on this earth so that what they forgive here, on the earth, is forgiven in heaven too”, mentioned His Grace, as Trinitas Radio station.

The Canon pays great heed to the redemption of man from the bondage of sin interceded by the Saviour through His sacrifice on the Cross. The man’s fall into sin, his redemption through the Incarnation and Sacrifice of the Saviour, the Sacrament of repentance, dogma of the Holy Trinity, worshipping of the Mother of God, are the main themes the author deals with.

The Third Day of the Great Canon at the Patriarchal Cathedral

On 29 February 2012, the third part of the Great Canon service was celebrated at the Patriarchal Cathedral of Bucharest. On the third day of the Lent the Great Canon service was celebrated by His Grace Varlaam Ploiesteanul, Assistant Bishop to the Patriarch, in the presence of hundreds of faithful.

His Grace spoke in the sermon delivered about the content and significance of this religious service.

“The Church calls us to lowliness, to repentance, and urges us to shed tears just like so many other people of the holy history of the Old and New Testaments, so that these tears may clean the filth of the soul, wash the clothing that the Creator gave us in Paradise at the time and which was replaced after the fall with the skin clothing made by the sin. I am sure that every one of us noticed that the lecture or hearing of this canon brings about a spiritual tension rarely met during the religious year”.

The state of repentance to which Saint Andrew the Cretan calls us through his canon, must not be felt only during the first days of the Lent, added His Grace.

“Repentance must be a permanent state of the true Christian. The Saviour teaches us that we must always be in a state of vigil. The Saviour tells us to work as long as it is daylight, because you work for your salvation as long as you are alive, because the night falls, namely the death, when nobody can work anymore. A troparion of the Canon of Saint Andrew the Cretan says: the end is coming soul; the time was shortened; the Judge is standing at the door. The imminent meeting of the repenting soul with Christ, the Judge, brings about the desire of fast improvement. This is why all the verbs we meet in the troparions of this Canon are imperatives”, explains His Grace Varlaam Ploiesteanul, as Trinitas Radio station informs us.

Saint Andrew the Cretan underlines, in his Canon, the need of repentance, without which there cannot be restoration and deification, respectively. In this sense, the author made a centralisation of the Bible deeds – both in the Old and in the New Testament – all of them with deep sorrow and heartbreak. Every deed of the human: creation, disobedience and fall, expulsion from the Paradise, sorrow caused by the sin and waiting for salvation, as well as the redemption by Christ, is individualised and personalized. They change the deeds of every one of us: my creation, my fall, my redemption.

The Second Day of the Canon of Saint Andrew the Cretan at the Patriarchal Cathedral

On 28 February 2012, the second day of the Lent, His Grace Ciprian Campineanul, Assistant Bishop to the Patriarch celebrated the canon religious service at the Patriarchal Cathedral of Bucharest, in the presence of hundreds of faithful.

To end with, His Grace delivered a sermon in which he showed that this canon of Saint Andrew the Cretan urges us to repentance.

“What is repentance? If we translate it from the Greek language, metanoia means a changing of the mind, the changing of the thought. If we have made the mistake to think ill of something or somebody so far we should look inside us, think of God, report us to His Gospel and change our thought which certainly influences our behaviour”.

At the same time, His Grace Ciprian Campineanul urged the faithful to a thorough analysis of their own lives during this period of the Lent, to assume and confess their sins and practice virtues.

“Saint John Chrysostom tells us how little God asks us to do in this life for our neighbour as a proof that we love Him. He did not ask us to give a good dinner to a human, but only a loaf of bread to the hungry one to feed him. He did not ask for much drinking, but only for a glass of water to the thirsty one. He did not ask the human to dress his neighbour in mink, in rich clothes, but give him only a coat to cover his naked body. Neither did He reproach the people that they have not healed somebody in the hospital, but only that they have not visited the sick. And neither will He reproach us that we have not released somebody from the prison, but the fact that we have not visited him to encourage and strengthen him in the sufferance he endures either on the hospital bed or in prison. So, look how little God asks us to do in this earthly life to show that we love Him Who identifies Himself with every one of our neighbours no matter how unimportant he may be”, as His Grace explained, as Trinitas Radio station informs us.

The canon of Saint Andrew the Cretan (660 – 740) or the Great Canon, as also named, is made up of 250 lines, unlike 30 of an ordinary canon. The canon was drafted by Saint Andrew while he was in Constantinople before being ordained archbishop of Gortynea, Crete (692), or at least soon afterwards (712). This religious service typical for the Lent emphasises the need of repentance, without which there cannot be restoration and salvation.

The Patriarch of Romania Celebrated the Great Canon Service at the Patriarchal Cathedral- First Day

On 27 February 2012, His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church celebrated the canon of Saint Andrew the Cretan, at the Patriarchal Cathedral. The canon service began at 16.00 hours, in the Patriarchal Cathedral, in the presence of hundreds of faithful. Because we are during the Lent period, the Primate of our Church wears black cassock exceptionally, keeping the white kamelaykon, the well known insignia of the patriarchal dignity.

In the sermon delivered, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel mentioned that our life must be lived in accordance with the will of God.

“This rich beautiful canon is at the same time a Bible meditation and a prayer of repentance. The repenting soul weeps because he did not follow the bright example of the righteous ones but the slavery of the passions present in many sinners who did not repent, while others were saved just because they repented. The prayer of the tax collector God, have mercy for me, the sinner becomes in the Canon of Saint Andrew the Cretan the rhythm and breath of repentance in the insistent lyrics Have mercy God, have mercy for me!, showed His Beatitude, as Trinitas Radio station informs us.

The Great Canon is sung in the Church at the beginning of the Lent, just to show that all people need repentance, added the Patriarch of Romania.

“Baptised in the name of the Holy Trinity, the Christians renew the Sacrament of Baptism through the tears of repentance. They die for sin and spiritually resurrect for Christ. The witnessing of the right faith through doxology is closely connected to the rediscovering of the right living through repentance. The mercy of the one essence, life giving and undivided Holy Trinity is the foundation and power that helps the repentance doors become the Doors of the Kingdom of Heaven open in the hearts of those who want salvation and eternal life”.

Read during the first four days of the first week of the Lent and completely on the Thursday of the fifth week, the Great Canon becomes a corrector and guide in our life due to the high thoughts that it conveys, to the themes needed in everybody’s life (lowliness, repentance, feelings of the heart), as well as to its depth.

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 sins committed. One can notice the alternation of two plans: the sinful soul who repents his sins because he did not follow the way of the righteous ones, but the large way of the mistake which shouts from the bottom of one’s heart: “Forgive me! I sinned in front of Heaven and to You!”, and that of the human beings who have reached divinity, through repentance.