Author Topic: Archpastoral lenten Message - Metropolitan Herman  (Read 1167 times)

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Archpastoral lenten Message - Metropolitan Herman
« on: March 03, 2003, 11:46:52 PM »
Great Lent 2003

To the Venerable Hierarchs, Reverend Clergy, Monastics and Faithful of the
Orthodox Church in America

Dearly Beloved in the Lord:

On Monday, March 10, Orthodox Christians around the world enter the season
of Great Lent and embark on the annual journey to Holy Pascha. Far from
being a time of spiritual gloom or self- deprivation for its own sake,
Great Lent offers us a welcomed respite from the hectic pace of life "in
the world," a blessed oasis at which we partake of the One Who, as "living
water," cleanses us from the dark stain of sin and fills us with "the life
of the world to come.” And while there are indeed those who see the lenten
discipline of prayer and fasting, of almsgiving and repentance, as burdens
or who reduce Great Lent to a series of rules and regulations, nothing
could be further from reality. As we sing at Matins on the first day of
Great Lent, "Let us joyfully begin the all-holy season of abstinence! Let
us shine with the bright radiance of the holy commandments of Christ our
God, with the brightness of love and the splendor of prayer, with the
purity of holiness and the strength of good courage! So, clothed in a
garment of light, let us hasten to the Holy Resurrection on the third day,
that shines upon the world with the glory of eternal life!"

Repentance—that interior transformation of mind and heart, of vision and
direction—stands at the very center of our lenten journey. We, like the
prodigal son, stand at the doors of repentance, seeking forgiveness from
our heavenly Father, Who unconditionally accepts us in our desire to be
reconciled with Him and with those against whom we have sinned. It is our
heavenly Father Who sent His only-begotten Son into this world to call us
to repentance and to raise us from darkness into the never-ending
brightness of His Kingdom. He makes it possible for us to delight in
freedom from those passions which, while well within our control, all too
often take control of us. In fasting we regain control not only of that
which goes into our mouths, but, more importantly, that which proceeds from
it. "As we fast from food," we sing during Forgiveness Vespers, "let us
abstain also from every passion."

Emptying ourselves of such preoccupations, we find the freedom to discover
the very image of Christ in others, in "the least of the brethren" and even
in our enemies, and to respond to them as we would respond to the Lord
Himself. We offer our time, our talents, and our treasures—our very
being—to those whose lives are filled with burdens far greater than our
own. By giving alms, we reveal "the brightness of love" to those who hunger
and thirst for a sign of hope while soberly acknowledging that, at any
moment, their plight could very well become our own. We seal all that we do
during this blessed time with "the splendor of prayer," rejoicing in the
knowledge that God indeed answers us as He sees fit and equips us with all
that we need to continue our journey to Pascha—and beyond.

"Rejoicing in the virtues of the Spirit, may we persevere with love," we
sing on the eve of Great Lent, "and so be counted worthy to see the solemn
Passion of Christ our God, and with great spiritual joy to behold His holy
Pascha!" What comfort we receive in being afforded yet another opportunity
to discover that through prayer and fasting, through almsgiving and
repentance and the pursuit of virtue, we might delight in "the Light Which
is never overcome by darkness." Rather than imposing burdens upon us, Great
Lent frees us from those things which weigh us down, physically as well as
spiritually. It challenges us to empty ourselves of all that would cast a
shadow on accepting Christ's invitation to become "lights of the world."
And it brings us, here and now, into the very brightness of that Kingdom
which, while yet to be fulfilled, is already revealed to those willing to
see it.

As we journey together to the glorious Resurrection of Christ, may we not
lose sight of the joy that comes from repentance. Together, let us sing,
"Cleanse me in the waters of repentance, and through prayer and fasting
make me shine with light!" Having been freed from "the works of darkness,"
let us "put on the armor of light," so that together we might share in that
eternal victory which brings us from darkness to light, from earth to
heaven, and ultimately, from death to life!

As we enter into the grace-filled days of Great Lent, I ask your
forgiveness. May the blessings of these days and weeks of prayer and
repentance bring us all to know the fullness of joy in the Risen Lord.

With love in Christ,

Archbishop of Washington
Metropolitan of All America and Canada

Oh Lord, Save thy people and bless thine inheritance.
Grant victory to the Orthodox Christians over their adversaries.
And by virtue of thy Cross preserve thy habitation.