On the fifth Saturday of Lent, the Byzantine Catholic Churches have a special service in honour of the Mother of God, the Akathist. This service is called Akathist (Akafist) which comes from the Greek “akathistos” which means “not sitting”. The entire hymn is sung while standing as a sign of honour to our Holy Mother. It is a prayer of veneration, thanksgiving and petition and is an expression of profound joy.
Akathist Saturday does not have any real relation to the Great Fast, but occurs at this time for historical reasons. The melody and profound content of this hymn incorporates the whole teaching of the Eastern Church concerning Mary. In the Akathist we meditate and pray about the privileges, role and graces of the Mother of God in our salvation. As we do so, we realize the power of her intercession and protection. It is difficult for our hearts to remain unmoved at the beauty and profound imagery of this prayer. It is the crown of all the services in honour of Mary in the Eastern Church.