Each year the Eastern Catholic Churches, as well as other Eastern Christians, participate in a fasting season Aug. 1-14 in preparation for the Aug. 15 feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God (which is celebrated as the Assumption in the Latin rite).

Traditionally, during the strict fourteen day fast, Eastern Catholics abstain from meat, dairy, fish, wine, and oil on weekdays, with some relaxation on the weekends and on the feast of the Transfiguration. The fast is relaxed for children and the elderly, or for those with a medical condition.

The Paraklesis, also known as the Office of Consolation to the Most Holy Theotokos, consists of a set of prayers sung in the Byzantine rite throughout the preparatory fast with the repeated invocation, “Holy Mother of God, save us!”

For more than 40 years Santa Maria in Via Lata, a Roman basilica, has celebrated this “Little Lent of the Mother of God” with nightly sung prayers taken from both Byzatine and Latin rite texts.

The basilica says that with this unique fusion of prayers, both the East and the West together, honor the Queen of Heaven. This year, prayers will include intercessions for Christian unity, for families, and for peace, particularly in the Middle East and in Eastern Europe.

The 17th-century Santa Maria in Via Lata – located on Via del Corso, one of Rome’s busiest shopping and tourism streets – also has Eucharistic adoration each day beginning at 5:00pm.

The two weeks of prayer in Rome will culminate in a solemn vigil for the Feast of the Assumption of Mary Aug. 14 at 8:00pm in the Basilica of Saint Mary Major, the preeminent church dedicated to the Mother of God in Rome. A choir made up of sisters from the Compassionist Sisters Servants of Mary will sing the evening prayers for the vigil.

The Dormition (Assumption) is a holy day of obligation in both the Latin rite and among the Eastern Catholic Churches.

Full story at Angelus News.