“Let us begin the pure fast, o people, which is the salvation of our souls, let us serve the Lord with fear… let us cry out: Our Father in Heaven, forgive us our trespasses, for You are the lover of mankind” (stikhira at Matins – Tuesday).
With such reverent feelings, the sisters of the Holy Ascension Monastery and the monastery of St. Mary Magdalene in the Garden of Gethsemane entered the holy days of “the immaculate fast”.
On the Mount of Olives, the services were performed in the refectory church of Righteous Philaret the Merciful, in Gethsemane in the church of St. Equal-to-the-Apostles Mary Magdalene.
Piously, the divine services were served by the typicon rules in the morning and in the evening. At Matins, the teachings of the holy fathers were read from the works of St. Ephraim the Syrian, St. Theodore the Studite, from the book “The Lausaic History” by St. Palladius of Elenopol and during the hours the readings were from the “The Ladder of Divine Ascent” of St. John of the Ladder. In the evenings at Great Compline, the Great Penitential Canon of St. Andrew of Crete was read.
On Wednesday and Friday, the first Liturgies of the Presanctified Gifts were served. On Friday, after the Liturgy, koliva (sweet wheat) was blessed in memory of the miracle of the great martyr St. Theodore Tyro.
All week the sisters fasted and on Saturday after confession they approached the Holy Chalice and communed with the Holy Gifts.
The head of the Mission, Archimandrite Roman (Krassovsky), spent the first three days of the fast on the Mount of Olives, and from Wednesday evening at the monastery of St. Mary Magdalene. He read the patristic teachings and served the Liturgies with the monastery clergy.