March 18, 2013
Beloved in Christ:
“Let us begin the season of fasting with rejoicing, giving ourselves to spiritual strife, purifying soul and body, fasting from passions, as we fast from foods, faring on the virtues of the Spirit, which, if we continue to long for, we shall all be worthy to behold the most solemn Passion of Christ, and the holy Passover, rejoicing with spiritual joy.” – From Forgiveness Vespers
These beautiful words, which we hear during Forgiveness Vespers, give us an eloquent description of the very nature of the Holy season of Great Lent. Great Lent is a time of increased prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Fasting is not just about food, it is about fasting from the passions and cleansing our souls and by abstaining from certain foods, we cleanse our bodies at the same time. Thus, turning to a simpler way of life, we allow ourselves more time to spend in prayer, especially by attending the beautiful Lenten services that our rich Orthodox Tradition provides for us during this Holy Season.
As we approach Forgiveness Sunday, I urge all of us to whole-heatedly forgive one another and to enter this holy season with purity of heart and at peace with all men, for as St. Nicholai of Zica says, “God the Holy Spirit has many abodes in this vast universe, but a pure heart is the place in which He most delights to dwell.”
Beloved in Christ, I bow before each of you, asking for your forgiveness for any of my words, deeds, or thoughts that have in any way hurt or offended you.
May God forgive us all, and may He grant all of us a blessed Lenten Season.
Assuring you of my constant love, prayers and support, I remain,
Yours in Christ,
+ ARCHBISHOP JOSEPH
Diocese of Los Angeles and the West
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America