Archpastoral Letter For Great Lent 2019
GREAT LENT 2019 - Protocol N. 3/2019
My Beloved Faithful Clergy and Laity of Our God-Protected Diocese:
As we begin Holy and Great Lent on March 11th I wanted to share with you a few thoughts so that we may journey through the season and arrive safely at the Great Feast of Feasts, Holy Pascha with the proper frame of mind.
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 of 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.
In our prayer life the Prayer of St. Ephraim the Syrian is read each week day during Great Lent.
O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages. Amen
Jesus Christ’s instructions on fasting are found in Matthew 6:16-18.
“Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
When we fall away from God, we have removed ourselves from His communion. We have excommunicated ourselves. To re-enter communion with God is the on-going activity of all Christians. We fall away daily in some way or another. No one is exempt.
We are telling God that we have changed our mind about the past direction and want to be back in communion with Him. The Greek word for repentance is “metanoia” which implies a deep change in the way we see ourselves, our world, and our relationship with God.
And so I strongly encourage all of you to go to Confession and to rid yourselves of the heavy burdens of your sins or as I tell the young people of our Diocese “just dump all of your garbage” and begin anew.
I hope and pray that this Great Lenten Season will be spiritually inspiring and an uplifting experience for all of you.
Working in His Vineyard with much love,
+METROPOLITAN GREGORY OF NYSSA