Archpastoral Letter on Great Lent 2013
Great Lent 2013
Protocol N. 6
My beloved Faithful of the Diocese:
As we begin the Great Lenten Season, I wanted to share with you a few thoughts so that we may journey through the season and approach Pascha with the proper frame of mind. In the hymn of Cheese Fare Vespers we hear,
“Let us set out with joy upon the season of the fast preparing ourselves for spiritual combat. Let us purify our souls and cleanse our bodies. As we fast from food let us also fast from every evil, rejoicing in the virtues of the spirit. Let us persevere with love and so be deemed worthy to venerate the passion of Christ our God and with great spiritual gladness to behold His Holy Resurrection.”
Great Lent is a period of increased activity for the active Orthodox Christian. Our prayer, fasting, and almsgiving must increase. Attendance at Church services (of which there are many) and spiritual reading must increase. We must increase our self-examination, reflection and confession. Great Lent is also a period of decreased activity for the active Orthodox Christian. We should show restraint in our normal “outside of Lent” lifestyle. We should reduce our watching television, listening to the radio, surfing the internet, going to concerts and movies. Great Lent is not just about what we eat, but more importantly how we live.
St. John Chrysostom wrote the following on fasting which we should all take to heart and try to incorporate into our lives, but especially during Great Lent which begins this year on Monday, March 18th.
“Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works. If you see a poor man, take pity on him. If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him. Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eyes and the ears and the feet, and the hands, and all the members of our bodies. Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice (desire to gain great wealth). Let the feet fast, by ceasingto run after sin. Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful. Let the ears fast by not listening to evil talk and gossip. Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism. For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fish, but bite and devour our brothers?”
I pray that this Great Lenten Season is a spiritually inspiring and an uplifting experience for all of you.
Working in His Vineyard,
+BISHOP GREGORY OF NYSSA