We in the Latin Christian Tradition are unaware of the lesser fasts (Lents) observed by our brothers and sisters in the Eastern Orthodox traditions.
This morning , when I awoke way too early, I turned on YouTube and found the channel Svyatogorsk Lavra, operated by a Ukrainian Orthodox Monastery under the Patriarchate of Moscow. The monks, priests and bishops were holding a religious procession marking the end of this Lesser Fast, commemorating the Dormition of The Virgin. This corresponds to The Solemnity of The Assumption of The Blessed Virgin Mary in the Latin Church (August 15). The Assumption is the Feast where we remember Mary’s Assumption, both body and soul, into Heaven,
The liturgical vestments were in Violet, the penitential color. The procession at the monastery ended with the blessing of water and new honey, hence the name Honey Fast. The znamenny chant by the monks continued nonstop during this hour+ long rite. Nearly all the women covered their heads with lace mantillas, just as women did in the pre-Vatican II Roman Church. It is a lovely custom.
This monastery has been around since 1526, nearly five hundred years. As context, Luher posted his 95 Theses only nine years earlier, in 1517. The new St Peter’s Basilica in The Vatican was still under construction. This monastery is in Eastern Ukraine in the Donets basin. The area is contested berween Russia and Ukraine, with many ethnic Russians living in this area.
The point of this ramble and rant is about how little we know about Russia, Ukraine, and the rest of the old Soviet Union. The Russians and Ukrainians I observe on YT,, don’t look particularly interested in going to war. With anybody.
Watching this ancient rite from an area still shrouded in mystery for many of us, puts many of our issues within a global and temporal perspective. The faithful will endure, despite corruption, despite tyranny. Aspiring to Heaven carries its own graces.