Dear Sisters and Brothers,
Beginning Great Lent, I ask forgiveness from the clergy, religious and faithful of the Philadelphia Metropolia, the UCU community, and family, friends and collaborators in different corners of the world.
Forgive me for the offenses or disappointments, the unfulfilled expectations, for everything by which I have sinned against God and you in thought or word, commission or omission, undue pressure or lack of attention, criticism or silence.
Let us ask for forgiveness of each other. Let us ask and forgive deeply, emptying and expunging the cup of negative passions that may have been filled over the last year so that we may begin nimbly our common journey of the next forty days— the holy pilgrimage to the Lord’s Pascha.
The Risen One is close! He’s coming, approaching embodied in our brothers and sisters, especially in those with whom we have issues, with whom something is not right.
Lent is a tool for focusing so that we may open up to God, focusing in order to free ourselves of passions: anger, envy, lust, avarice, and pride. It is a time when we symbolically mortify our bodies. Things settle down a bit. Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving cleanse us and prepares us spiritually for the Passover — our transition from death to life.
Lent is not a time of sadness, although we should weep over our sins. We know how Lent ends — with the Resurrection, when our sins and death are trampled and crushed.
Today we are all bombarded by so much information and propaganda. It is difficult for us to find rest from visual stimulation. In this context certain disciplines of a contemporary Lent can bring peace and joy. This year I will repeat a practice of previous years: unplugging from social networks and limiting time on the Internet. If you can, I encourage you to do so too. Free time for prayer, works of charity, fellowship. Free time simply for silence before God.
May repentance and forgiveness open our eyes, our senses, to see the face of Him who takes the moral burden of all our afflictions, betrayals, and compromises, small and great, carrying them to Calvary and transforming them with His sacrifice.
In peace, joy, and gratitude for each other, let us immerse ourselves in prayer, fasting, and works of mercy!
Christ is Risen!