The Lenten Triodion is the liturgical book followed in preparation for Pascha. To help understand its purpose let us visit Saint Nikolai Velimirovich Bishop of Ohrid and Zica, Serbia (May 3): ’We waited, and at last our expectations were
fulfilled’, writes Saint Nikolai, describing the Easter service at Jerusalem. ‘When the Patriarch sang “Christ is risen,” a heavy burden fell from our souls. We felt as if we also had been raised from the dead. All at once, from all around, the same cry resounded like the noise of many waters. “Christ is Risen” sang the Greeks, the Russians, the Arabs, the Serbs, the Copts, the Armenians, the Ethiopians one after another, each in his own tongue, in his own melody. . . . Coming out from the service at dawn, we began to regard everything in the light of the glory of Christ’s Resurrection, and all appeared different from what it had yesterday; everything seemed better, more expressive, more glorious. Only in the light of the Resurrection does life receive meaning.’ (Saint Nikolai Velimirovich)
This sense of resurrection joy, so vividly described by Saint Nikolai, forms the foundation of all the worship of the Orthodox Church; it is the one and only basis for our Christian life and hope. Yet, in order for us to experience the full power of this Paschal rejoicing, each of us needs to pass through a time of preparation. ‘We waited,’ says Saint Nikolai, ‘and at last our expectations were fulfilled.’ Without this waiting, without this expectant preparation, the deeper meaning of the Easter celebration will be lost.
So it is that before the festival of Easter there has developed a long preparatory season of repentance and fasting, extending in present Orthodox usage over ten weeks. First come twenty-two days (four successive Sundays) of preliminary observance; then the six weeks or forty days of the Great Fast of Lent; and finally Holy Week. Balancing the seven weeks of Lent and Holy Week, there follows after Easter a corresponding season of fifty days of thanksgiving, concluding with Pentecost.
Each of these seasons has its own liturgical book. For the time of preparation, there is the Lenten Triodion or ‘Book of Three Odes.’
To read more about the Triodion and about the Great Fast, please click http://www.goarch.org/ourfaith/ourfaith9199