The end is at hand, my soul, is at hand!
But you neither care nor prepare.
The time is growing short. Arise!
The Judge is at the door!
Like a dream, like a flower, the time of this life passes.
Why do we bustle about in vain?
(Fourth ode of the Canon of Saint Andrew)
The central theme of Lent is repentance. This theme is at the heart of one of the best-loved texts of Great Lent, the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete. This text is heard during the first week of Lent as part of Great Compline, in which an extract of the Canon is chanted each day. In the middle of the fifth week of Lent, the Canon is chanted in its entirety.
The Canon is a dialogue between the Christian and his soul. The central theme is the urgent exhortation to change one’s life. Thus the Canon is repeated in its entirety toward the end of Lent. If by now we have not begun to repent, then now is the time.
The Church knows that repentance is not easy. Even the holy author of the Canon is persistently reminding himself of his lack of repentance, striving to persuade himself to change his ways. The Church invites us to make his words our own. It is never too late to repent.
In the Canon of Saint Andrew, we are reminded that death is always at the door, and Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church, is near. Are you ready to meet Him? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt.3:2).
By Fr. Vassilios Papavassiliou, “Meditations for Great Lent: Reflections on the Triodion”