When I made pilgrimage to the Holy Land, it was a common experience to see this icon surrounding the Church exit: the icon of the Last Judgment on the Western wall (as pictured above). Its purpose is quite clear. It serves as a message to the Church as it enters the world: our actions in this life will ultimately come before the judgment seat of Christ.
It seems a bit grim, and I'm not sure if it ever achieved its intended purpose. However, the Last Judgment is a matter of Church teaching, and is featured on this coming Sunday, as it is just prior to Great Lent each year.
It is appropriate in the Christian life to consider the end of our life. The "remembrance of death" is actually considered an essential part of the Orthodox spiritual life. We are foolish if we fail to consider the end of things or ignore the reality that our actions have consequences - in this life and the next.
Notes for Great Lent
This Saturday - (February 18) Saturday of Meatfare. The first of the Lenten Memorial Saturdays will have a Divine Liturgy at 9 am in which special prayers are offered for the departed. Plan to attend. It is appropriate to bring Koliva.
This Sunday - The Sunday of the Last Judgment marks the beginning of "Cheese Fare Week," the last time that dairy products are eaten before Great Lent.
Sunday, February 26 - Forgiveness Sunday. There will be the traditional Forgiveness Vespers following the Divine Liturgy and Coffee Hour. Plan to stay for this important beginning to the Great Fast.
Classes in Great Lent
On Wednesday evenings in Great Lent, there will not be a homily at the service. Instead, during the evening meal (soup and bread), there will be a lecture on "Christ in the Old Testament - The Scriptures of Great Lent."
Fr. Stephen will present this series. The schedule:
March 1 – Genesis the Beginnings
March 8 – Exodus the Theophanies
March 15 – Exodus the Theophanies (continued)
March 22 – Proverbs - Wisdom
March 29 – Job – The Suffering Messiah
April 5 – Christ’s Pascha in the Old Testament
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