Let us begin the Great Lent Seeking “Forgiveness”
My dear friends, “if I have wronged you in any manner through my words or deeds, please Forgive me, a Sinner.”
The first act before we enter this Great Lent is to ask from and offer forgiveness to everyone individually we have wronged. This is one of the most powerful moments of Christian Perfection. One by one, each parishioner bows or prostrates, first before the priest, and then each other, asking, “Forgive me, a sinner” – a humbling process. Each responds with a bow or prostration, asking also for forgiveness and assuring, “God forgives.” Each then should exchange the kiss of peace – beginning the healing of our spirits and souls leading to spiritual perfection.
If done properly from your heart, this is an emotionally intense service, tears often flow and hugs of true reconciliation are common. You cannot experience spiritual perfection (likeness of God) without true love and forgiveness. Therefore, before Lent begins, we are called to forgive all who have wronged us. Having given and received forgiveness, we enter the true journey of the Great Fast.
The purpose of our fasting is spiritual. Spirituality must not be viewed as something that does not concern the body, “but as something that is made possible through and within the body.” Typically,the desires and needs of the flesh can all too often overpower the spirit. It is important for the faithful to understand that, fasting is a means of restoring balance between soul and body, a means of bringing the flesh under the control and will of the mind and spirit.
One must remember that, fasting per se is not virtue, nor is failing to fast sin. Our forefathers strictly instructed us not to judge in this regard. May Great Lent “turn us back to Paradise to the Life of Eden so that, like Moses, we too may see God.”
With much love of Christ, I wish you wholeheartedly a blessed Great Lent. May the Lord make us all worthy to experience it in health and an uplifting of the soul. And to be ready spiritually to worship His Holy Passion and celebrate His Glorious Resurrection, here is a Lenten Prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian for your daily use:
“O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of laziness, faint-heartedness, lust of power, and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to Thy servant. Lord and King, grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother, for Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.”