Today marks the third day of our 48-day Great Fast that is leading us to the Paschal joy of the Resurrection. As our Roman Catholic brethren begin their lenten journeys today by putting ashes on their heads, we continue ours with the vesperal Pre-Sanctified Liturgy. As they bury their alleluias, we enter the Season of Alleluias. As they carry the cross with Christ and unite themselves to His sufferings in the Stations of the Cross, we look to the Resurrection in our All Souls Saturdays with the parastas or memorial prayers. As they kneel in repentance, we prostrate ourselves before each other and the Lord.
Many of the externals are different in how East and West make their lenten journeys, but the tri-fold path of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are at the root of our Christian conversion, our metanoia, our transfiguration, our theosis in Christ. Our traditions provide the framework that supports the repentance and conversion we are all called to.
What do we want to happen to us? The Great Fast calls you and me to embrace the need for conversion. We need to desire it. This happens through prayer, through fasting and through acts of charity. These help to remove our natural inclination to resistance to conversion. Prayer, fasting and charitable works orient us to understand God’s grace occurring all around us. Parishioners, together with their pastor, share in the quest for one another’s conversion. We support one another in our journey to a closer encounter with Jesus Christ. Plan to journey together this Great Fast by participating in your parish Lenten services and outreach to others.
Our journey in Great Fast has begun. We have focused ourselves on devoting greater time for prayer and meditation, and have resolved to fast and to offer something extra of ourselves in assisting others in need. Throughout the many parables, we learn of Jesus’ immense mercy. Jesus heals the sick and possessed. Jesus forgives the sinners. You and I can easily find ourselves amidst the sick, the possessed, and the sinners. Admitting that we have offended God, ourselves and others is needed before we can receive true forgiveness and healing. You will recall that those who asked Jesus for help were honest with themselves as to their condition. You and I need to be honest with ourselves about our weaknesses. Is there some anger, bad thoughts, resentment, and so on which we have found difficult to let go? Are there some personal failings which we continue to focus on, be it our own or by others? Whatever it is which possesses us, causes sickness and sinfulness, resolve to surrender it at the feet of Jesus Christ. Jesus is ready to forgive. Jesus is ready to heal. Are you and I ready to approach Jesus Christ with the honesty and readiness needed to be forgiven and to be healed this Great Fast?
-Metropolitan Stefan’s reflections for this week via The Way
Father Pavlo is available 30 minutes before every service for Confession, which includes tonight before the 7PM Pre-Sanctified Liturgy.
“Have you sinned? Go into Church and wipe out your sin. As often as you might fall down in the marketplace, you pick yourself up again. So too, as often as you sin, repent your sin. Do not despair. Even if you sin a second time, repent a second time. Do not by indifference lose hope entirely of the good things prepared. Even if you are in extreme old age and have sinned, go in, repent!”
-St. John Chrysostom, Homilies on Penance 3:4
You might also be interested in:
- Great Fast Pastoral from UGCC Bishops in USA
- A Byzantine Understanding of Great Lent
- Fasting and Abstaining FAQ
- The Fasting Seasons
- The Fathers on Fasting
- Video: Fr. Moses on Fasting
- Children and the Great Fast
- Forgiveness Sunday 2012
- Bows and Prostrations
- Music – Parastas (English)
- Early Church Fathers on Confession
- Confession in the Bible