DESCRIPTIONS OF LENTEN SERVICES
PRESANCTIFIED LITURGY (or, the Divine Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts) is held weekly on Wednesday evenings (except in the fifth week of Lent, when it is on Thursday). Unlike the usual Divine Liturgy, which is a celebration, this service is somber and reflective. An extra portion of Holy Communion that was consecrated at the preceding Sunday's Divine Liturgy (hence, "presanctified") is distributed to the faithful at this service, to strengthen us for the work of repentance. Those Orthodox Christians who wish to partake of Holy Communion at the Presanctified Liturgy should abstain from all food and drink after 1pm and make sure to say their pre-communion prayers.
GREAT COMPLINE is another somber service of repentance, which encourages us to turn away from worldly things toward God our Savior. Specifically, it is a service of prayer before sleep, so it includes prayers for God's care and protection as we approach bedtime. During the first week of Lent, part of the Great Canon of Repentance is added to Great Compline on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. After the first week of Lent, Great Compline (without the Canon) is offered weekly on Monday evenings.
THE AKATHIST TO THE THEOTOKOS is a joyful celebration of the Virgin Mary's help. It celebrates her role in the Incarnation of Christ as well as her ever-present power to save us through her intercessions. Combined with the service of Small Compline, it also includes the prayers before sleep found in Great Compline. The Akathist is sung on the first five Fridays of Lent.