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Forgiveness Sunday/Cheesefare Sunday

February 14, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

THE GOSPEL READING

For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; 15but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. 16And when you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by men. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18that your fasting may not be seen by men but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 19Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, 20but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust consumes and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. [ Matthew 6:14-21 ]


On Repentance

Open to me the doors of repentance, O Giver of Life!


Repentance is expressed by the Greek word, metanoia. In the literal sense, this means a change of mind. In other words, repentance is a change of one’s disposition, one’s way of thinking; a change of one’s inner self. Repentance is a reconsideration of one’s views, an alteration of one’s life.

How can this come about? In the same way that a dark room into which a man enters is illumined by the rays of the sun. Looking around the room in the dark, he can make out certain things, but there is a great deal he does not see and does not even suspect is there. Many things are perceived quite differently from what they actually are. He has to move carefully, not knowing what obstacles he might encounter. When, however, the room becomes bright, he can see things clearly and move about freely.

The same thing happens in spiritual life.

When we are immersed in sins, and our mind is occupied solely with worldly cares, we do not notice the state of our soul. We are indifferent to who we are inwardly, and we persist along a false path without being aware of it.

But then a ray of God’s Light penetrates our soul. And what filth we see in ourselves! How much untruth, how much falsehood! How hideous many of our actions prove to be, which we fancied to be so wonderful. And it becomes clear to us which is the true path.

If we then recognize our spiritual nothingness, our sinfulness, and earnestly desire our amendment – we are near to salvation. From the depths of our soul we shall cry out to God: “Have mercy on me, O God, have mercy according to Thy Great mercy!” “Forgive me and save me!” “Grant me to see my own faults and not to judge my brother!”

As Great Lent begins, let us hasten to forgive each other all hurts and offenses. May we always hear the words of the Gospel for Forgiveness Sunday: If ye forgive men their debts, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their debts, neither will your Father forgive your debts (Matt. 6:14-15).

Sermon of Saint John of Shanghai and San Francisco

Today we celebrate: the Expulsion of Adam from Paradise

As we begin the Great Fast, the Church reminds us of Adam’s expulsion from Paradise. God commanded Adam to fast (Gen. 2:16), but he did not obey. Because of their disobedience, Adam and Eve were cast out of Eden and lost the life of blessedness, knowledge of God, and communion with Him, for which they were created. Both they and their descendents became heirs of death and corruption. Let us consider the benefits of fasting, the consequences of disobedience, and recall our fallen state. Today we are invited to cleanse ourselves of evil through fasting and obedience to God. Our fasting should not be a negative thing, a mere abstention from certain foods. It is an opportunity to free ourselves from the sinful desires and urges of our fallen nature, and to nourish our souls with prayer, repentance, to participate in church services, and partake of the life-giving Mysteries of Christ.


Tone 6 (from the Lenten Triodion)

Adam ate the forbidden fruit and was driven from Paradise.

He sat outside, weeping bitterly:

“Woe to me! What will become of me, a worthless man?

I disobeyed one command of my Master and lost every good thing!

O holy Paradise, planted for me by God, and closed by the weakness of Eve,

grant that I may once again gaze on the flowers of your gardens!”

The Savior said to him:

“I do not wish the death of my creation!

I desire that all should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth,

for him who comes to me I shall never cast out!”

now and ever, and unto ages of ages.  Amen.

Tone 6 (Theotokion)

My Maker and Redeemer, Christ the Lord,

was born of you, O most pure Virgin.

By accepting my nature, He freed Adam from his ancient curse.

Unceasingly we magnify you as the Mother of God!

Rejoice, O celestial Joy!

Rejoice, O Lady:

the Protection, Intercession and Salvation of our souls!

Kontakion, Tone 6 (Triodion)

O Master, Teacher of wisdom,

Bestower of virtue,

who teaches the  thoughtless and protects the poor:

strengthen and enlighten my heart,

Word of the Father,

let me not restrain my mouth from crying to Thee:

Have mercy on me, a transgressor,

O Merciful Lord!


At Forgiveness Vespers we sing: “Let us begin the time of fasting in light, preparing ourselves for spiritual efforts. Let us purify our soul, let us purify our body. As we abstain from food, let us abstain from all passion and enjoy the virtues of the spirit….”

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