Russian Orthodox Church
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Dallas, Texas
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Redeeming the Time Vol. 01.19 Forgiveness Sunday Feb 16/Mar 1 1998

Redeeming the Time

St. Nicholas Orthodox Church Dallas TX

See then that ye walk circumspectly,not as fools, but as wise,

redeeming the time, because the days are evil.

Feb 16/Mar 1 1998

Forgiveness Sunday

Vol. 01.19

News and Announcements *

The Beginning of Great Lent *

Fasting during Great Lent *

Services Schedule for Clean Week *

The Welcome mat *

Travelers *

Sick *

Sunday Catechetical Lectures *

Catechetical Topics Solicited *

10 Questions on Forgiveness Sunday *


Hierarch Andrew, Archbishop of Crete *

Gleanings from the Fathers *


Thoughts of Hierarch Theophanes the Recluse on the Forgiving of Offenses *

Lessons from the Fathers - On Fasting *

10 Questions on Forgiveness Sunday - Answers *

News and Announcements

The Beginning of Great Lent

Forgiveness vespers on Sunday afternoon marks our entrance into the Great Fast. Because some of us travel long distances, the vespers service is early, and there is not time for an evening meal (which would not be fasting). For those who wish to fast from the end of Vespers, may it be blessed. If you have foods to finish up, eat them as part of your evening meal, with discretion.

The first week of Great Lent is very intense, with services every evening. Only those who take the time to attend these services will really understand their benefit.

Fasting during Great Lent

During all of Great Lent, we eat no animal products (with one exception). We abstain from all flesh meat, fish, milk, cheese and other milk products, eggs, olive oil, wine and hard liquor on all weekdays (Monday through and including Friday). On the weekend (Saturday and Sunday), the fast is relaxed a little. We can have olive oil or wine if we wish. On Annunciation, fish is allowed, since this is such a joyful feast of the Mother of God.

There are other aspects to the physical fast. We should watch our portions, and guard against gluttony. It is very advisable to not eat between meals. The very strictest will only eat only one uncooked meal in the late afternoon or evening, but you should have a blessing to do this. Anyone who fasts from all their sins has a blessing to fast in this way.

Let it be enough for us poor sinners that we eat only the allowed foods, and prepare our food simply, and eat it is reasonable quantities without complaining. Let our fast from food, in obedience to the church, help us to accomplish the most important fast - from our iniquities.

Services Schedule for Clean Week

Feb 17 / Mar 2 STRICT FAST


GM Theodore the Tyro

6th Hour Isa 1:1-20

Vesp Gen 1:1-13 Prov 1:1-20

6:30 PM - Great Canon

Feb 18 / Mar 3 STRICT FAST


St. Leo the Great

6th Hour Isa 1:19-2:3

Vespers Gen 1:14-23 Prov. 1:20-33

6:30 PM - Great Canon

Feb 19 / Mar 4 STRICT FAST


App Archippus, Philemon of the 70

6th Hour Isa 2:3-11

Vespers Gen 1:24-2:3 Prov. 2:1-22

6:30 PM - Great Canon

Feb 20 / Mar 5 STRICT FAST


St. Leo bp. Of Catinia

6th Hour: Isa 2:11-21

Vespers:Gen 2:4-19 Prov. 3:1-18

6:30 PM - Great Canon

Feb 21 / Mar 6 STRICT FAST


St. Timothy of Symbola

Jude 1-11-25 Lk 23:2-34, 44-56

6:30 PM - Presanctified Liturgy

Feb 22/ Mar 7 Wine & Oil


St Theodore the Tyro

Heb 1:1-12 Mark 2:23-3:5

St: 2 Tim 2:1-10 Jn 15:17-16:2

6:00 PM Saturday Evening Vigil (as usual)

The Welcome mat

If all goes well, David and Helen Miller, and their three children, Irene, Christina, and Rebecca will be moving to Dallas this weekend. They are from Austin, and wish to join our parish. Welcome!


Sergius (Sumeet) Bahadur will be traveling the entire month of February and part of March, in India and South Africa. Please pray for his safe return, and spiritual protection during his trip.

Catechuman Nicholas will be abroad for a month (in Copenhagen). Please pray for his safe return.


Please pray for the sick every day. Your prayer can be very simple: "Lord have mercy upon Thy (suffering) servant…"

    • Child Nikita
    • Nikita was born prematurely (at 26 weeks) in Australia, and is fighting for his young life.
    • Priest Martin
    • Serious back pain
    • Mother Seraphima - God's little sufferer
    • Tim Clader
    • serious ankle injury
    • David Miller
    • David just had knee surgery, and will be having back surgery after he recuperates from his knee surgery
    • Alexandra
    • breast cancer
    • Emily
    • severe headaches
    • Iakavos (James)
    • James is the son of Fr Paul Volmensky (CA). He has problems with pain in his legs and ankles.

Sunday Catechetical Lectures

Catechetical lectures today (Forgiveness Sunday). They will be a little bit after our Trapeza (breakfast) and will continue for the foreseeable future. Participation is absolutely invited and welcomed, unless everyone wishes to hear father give a 45 minute sermon. All of us need to learn more about our faith, or be reminded of the things we know. Please make it a priority in your life to set aside Sunday for worship, and learning about holy things. Time is precious. Let's use it wisely.

ANYONE is welcome at these sessions, whether they are Orthodox or not.

Catechetical Topics Solicited

If there are certain subjects that you would like to understand more about, please tell Fr Seraphim.

10 Questions on Forgiveness Sunday


Why Is Forgiveness Sunday so-called?


What event is commemorated on Forgiveness Sunday?


The last weekend before Great Lent is the last time we do several things. Can you think of three things that are not done again until Pascha (or even well after Pascha)?


Fasting is discussed in the services on Forgiveness Sunday, and all the days of Great Lent. What *most important* kind of fasting is stressed over and over?


What is commemorated next Sunday (the first Sunday of Great Lent)?


What is the fasting typicon for next week, and all the days in the Lenten season?


During Great Lent, we sing the long and rich canon of St Andrew of Crete. When and in which services?


Describe the dialogue in the Great canon. Who is speaking? Who is being spoken to?


Describe in general terms the content of the Great Canon.


What are the essential virtues that are a necessity for salvation that shine forth brightly in the words of the Great Canon?


By Protopriest V. Potapov

It may seem strange to some that we have decided to speak about fasting a whole month before the beginning of the Holy Quadragisima. There is nothing unusual here, since the Holy Church begins to prepare us in February for this important period of the church year by special Sundays preparatory for Great Lent: the Sundays of Zacchæus, the Publican and the Pharisee, the Prodigal Son and so forth.

In the Orthodox Church, Great Lent is a time of preparation for Passion Week, when the images of Jesus Christ's suffering and death rise up before is with special power, and for the greatest of feasts - the Bright Resurrection of Christ - Pascha. In ecclesiastical language, Great Lent is also called the Holy Quadragesima, since it lasts forty days.

In the first place, the meaning of fasting lies in abstinence (in theology, this is called ascesis), in forcing oneself to do not only that which, as they say, "my heart desires." The meaning of Lent lies in the bridling of one's egotistical desires, in humility before something else, and not what my self-love, my "ego" constantly dictates to me. Why is this necessary? Why is it useful to us from time to time to curb and humble ourselves? Because our nature is part of the world that lies in evil, as John the Evangelist says; man bears the consequences of original sin in himself, and the voluntary renunciation of ties with this natural world elevates us over it, liberates us from it, lays a beginning to the removal of the shackles that slavishly bind us to sin.

Fasting has been instituted for enlivening and not for killing our nature. Fasting is hygiene of the soul and a means for its cleansing and for the restoration of its health. Fasting is useful even only on the physical plane, and one may speak of the benefit and indispensability of fasting from the medical point of view.

Fasting restores lost equilibrium and harmony of soul, spirit and body in man. Restraining oneself from excessive satiety in food facilitates the capabilities of spirit and soul. Students preparing for examinations know by experience that one should not eat one's fill before study. After eating, a man is inclined toward sleep and not toward activity and thought. Venerable Seraphim of Sarov said that "it does not befit a stuffed belly to speak about things divine."

A man must nourish himself to support his life. And from the spiritual point of view, nourishment is not at all sinful. Obesity and corpulence are dangerous to spiritual life: in the Bible, God says in warning to Israel, who was going to the fertile Canaanite land: "Israel, Israel! Thou goest to a land wherein flow rivers of milk and honey. Beware Israel, lest thou grow fat and forget God!"

Fasting leads to complete equilibrium and to the harmony of our make-up of spirit, soul and body. If an exaggeration occurs in our life on the bodily side, it is useful to us to decrease this activity temporarily for the sake of liberating the spirit for sound-minded equilibrium. Already the Stoics taught of sound-mindedness as the harmony of man's entire make-up.

Why has the Church instituted a selection of food for the fasts? Our physiological activity is found in us in accordance with that food which we use: and we become more active bodily the more we nourish ourselves with things standing higher on the ladder of the organic and animal world. Vladimir Soloviev observes such a gradation of animal activity. This activity is least in the vegetable kingdom; therefore vegetables, fruits and cereals are considered the most "lenten" food. Fish, in accordance with its development, stands higher than plants, while birds are still higher than fish; therefore, the vital energy transmitted to us from these through nourishment is also proportionally higher. At the summit of the animal world, up to the creation of man, stand the mammals; therefore their meat is justly considered to be the most "non-lenten".

Besides the physiological meaning of fasting, it is necessary to point out its significance for the spiritual upbringing and strengthening of the will.

The Lord gave man freedom of will for the doing of good, for drawing near to the truth, for creating what is beautiful. But this our freedom of will does not at all speak of an absence of will, of a lack of will, of volitional paralysis and of apathy. If man is given freedom to choose, he ought, nevertheless, to know what he wants, to what his will ought to be directed. Freedom of human will ought not at all lead him to immorality, to unconcern, to ugliness, to dissipation. Having decided what is good and what is bad, man ought to use his will for doing what is good, that which would lead him to God. Man is called to creativity in good, to spiritual activity, to the building of the City of God. Therefore, fasting and every self-limitation (ascesis) is an excellent means for bringing up man's will, for curbing his dissipation.

The discipline of church fasting, just as every discipline, is beneficial to joint life, to the bridling of human self-will, which is too isolated in itself. Man needs to conform his will to the Church's will. It is useful to each of us to know what the whole Church wants. It is useful to me to fast when and how the Church prescribes it. It is useful to me, for the work of my salvation, to fulfill the discipline of the Catholic Church in order to be together with everyone, in order to join my personal "ego" to the common desire of the Church. It is indispensable for a man to do not only his own work, but also the "Common Work", and to subordinate himself to church discipline. Incidentally, the word "liturgy" means "common work". According to the Church's definition, Christians are "warriors of Christ"; in the aggregate, they are the "Army of Christ". The earthly Church - the Church Militant - is that which fights for her children's salvation. Discipline in the Church's Army, in "Christ's Army" is just as indispensable as, for example, in a usual army. In this is the aspect of the idea of Christian collectivity.

Fasting, of course, is an exercise not only in abstinence, but also in the performance of good works. The Church insists on this meaning of fasting in the hymnody of Great Lent. This is clear, for example, from this liturgical text: "Fasting bodily, brethren, let us also fast spiritually; let us loose every bond of unrighteous-ness; let us give bread to the hungry and lead the poor and homeless into our homes."

Parish Life, February 1998 Taken from

Hierarch Andrew, Archbishop of Crete

1/14 July

Hierarch Andrew was born in the city of Damascus, into a family of pious Christians. Until the age of seven years, the boy was dumb. Then, once, after partaking of the Holy Mysteries of Christ, he acquired the gift of speech and began to speak. From that time, the boy began to study Sacred Scripture and the theological sciences intensely.

At fourteen years of age, he withdrew to Jerusalem and there received the tonsure in the monastery of Saint Sabbas the Sanctified. Saint Andrew led a strict, chaste life, was meek and abstinent, so that everyone was astonished at his virtues and understanding. As a man gifted and well­known for his virtuous life, he, with the passage of time, was numbered among the Jerusalem clergy and appointed notarius ­ the secretary of the Patriarchate. In the year 680, Theodore, the locum tenens of the Jerusalem Patriarchal cathedra, included Archdeacon Andrew among the representatives of the Holy City at the Sixth Ecumenical Council, where he struggled against heretical teachings, relying on his profound knowledge of Orthodox dogmas.

Soon after the Council, he was recalled from Jerusalem to Constantinople and appointed archdeacon in the church of Hagia Sofia, the Holy Wisdom of God. During the rule of the Emperor Justinian II (685­695), Saint Andrew was ordained as Archbishop of the city of Gortyna on the island of Crete. In this new arena, he began to shine like a true lamp of the Church, a great hierarch­theologian, a teacher and a hymnist. Hierarch Andrew wrote many liturgical hymns. He became the founder of a new liturgical form ­ the canon. Of the canons composed by him, the Great Penitential Canon, which contains 250 troparia in its nine odes and is read in Great Lent, is the most well­known. At Compline during the first week of Lent, it is read in sections (the so­called "methimoni") and in full at Matins on Thursday of the Fifth Week.

Hierarch Andrew of Crete glorified the Most Pure Virgin Mary with many praises. To him likewise belong: a canon for the Nativity of Christ, the three­ode canons at Compline on Palm Sunday and on the first four days of Passion week, stichera for the Meeting of the Lord and many other hymns. Continuers of his hymnographical tradition were the great church hymnographers of the centuries that followed: Saints John Damascene, Cosmas of Miuma, Joseph the Hymnographer, Theophanes the Branded. Edifying discourses by Hierarch Andrew of Crete on certain church feasts have likewise been preserved.

Among Church historians, there is no single opinion concerning the time of the hierarch's end. Some designate the year 712, others ­ 726. He died on the island of Militene, while returning to Crete from Constantinople, where he had been on Church matters. His relics were translated to Constantinople. In 1350, the pious Russian pilgrim, Stephen the Novgorodian, saw them in the Constantinopolitan monastery named after Saint Andrew of Crete.

From Parish Life July, 1996 See

Gleanings from the Fathers


Contrition of heart and weeping for one's sins work wonders. Listen to the following account, and you will be convinced that this is true.

One day, Saint Niphon beheld two angels bearing a human soul up to heaven without permitting it to pass through the aerial toll-houses. The demons, the aerial tax collectors, began to scream: "Why are ye not giving this soul over to us? It is ours!" But the angels said: "Can ye prove that it is yours?" "Yea," the demons answered; "up until the moment of death it did only evil, and there was not a single sin which it did not commit. It was enslaved to the passions and parted from its body without repentance. Whosoever hath died a slave to sin is ours!" But one of the angels answered them, saying: "Since ye always lie, we will not believe you. But let the guardian angel of this soul be called, and we will believe him, for he will utter no lie." The guardian angel appeared, and the angels asked him: "Did this soul repent, or did it leave its body while yet in sin?" "Truly, this man was a sinner," replied the angel, "yet when he felt himself growing sick, he confessed his sins to God, shedding tears; and lifting up his hands to heaven he earnestly begged God for mercy." Then the angels took the soul to themselves, and the demons were put to shame. But the demons were dissatisfied, and again cried aloud: "If this man can find mercy that would mean that the whole world is saved! Are we laboring in vain?" " Yea," responded the angels, "all sinners who confess their sins humbly and with tears receive forgiveness from God, but for those who die without repentance God is a judge." And having uttered these words, they departed for the gates of heaven, and that soul was saved.

Thus, brethren, are contrition of heart and the tears one sheds over one's sins conducive to salvation. They have the power, as you see, to wash away even the most grievous of sins, to remove the stumbling-blocks which the soul can encounter on its way to the kingdom of heaven, and to rescue one from the very clutches of hell and bear one up to paradise. This is why God Himself calls us to such tears. He says: "Turn to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with lamentation: and rend your hearts..., and turn to the Lord your God: for He is merciful and compassionate, long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy" (Joel 2:12-13).

Let us therefore never forget that "a heart that is broken and humbled God will not despise" (Ps. 50: 19), and that "godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of." (II Cor. 7: 10). Amen.

Translated from the Russian by Reader Isaac E. Lambertsen, from "The Prologue in Homilies," compiled [in Russian] by Protopriest Victor Guriev, 4th edition (Moscow: Press of the Russian Monastery of Saint Panteleimon on Mount Athos, 1912), pp.323-324


Thoughts of Hierarch Theophanes the Recluse on the Forgiving of Offenses

Nothing is so powerful in the sight of the Lord as the forgiving of offenses, because it is the imitation of one of the actions closest to us of God's mercifulness; and we are not tempted by anything so easily as by irascibility and the desire for vengeance by a provoking word and, not infrequently, even a deed.

Why is it so, that we do not always forgive, but more often give ourselves up to outbursts of anger, annoyance and indignation? I think, it is from inattentiveness to the value of forgiving. In minutes of susceptibility to offense, one must restore in one's mind and heart the promise for forgiveness, which is undoubtedly more valuable than the greatest losses which an offense has the power to cause.

Let us forgive ­ and we shall be forgiven; let us forgive again ­ and we shall again be forgiven; and so on without end. He who forgives will himself walk under God's all­forgivingness, in the embrace of God's mercifulness and love. But let us hasten to forgive, in order to be forgiven, and this becomes easier, because that which we shall forgive is insignificant; while that which we shall be forgiven is so valuable that it cannot even be compared with it. In the Gospel parable, our sins against God are valued at ten thousand talents, while the sins of others against us are valued at a hundred denaria (Matthew 18:23­34). According to our reckoning, our sins are a thousand rubles, while the sins of others 8 against us are one kopek. To gain a thousand rubles for a kopek ­ for goodness' sake! if such an opportunity to make such a gain were to open up in everyday life, one would not even be able to force one's way through the crowd. But no gain on earth can be so sure as the Lord's promise is sure, and no appraisal of earthly things can be so exact as the comparative appraisal of our sins and the offenses caused us is exact, because it is determined by the God of righteousness Himself. Thus, remember the sins which thou hast been forgiven or seekest forgiveness of, and if not out of thankfulness for mercy received, then in undoubted hope of receiving it, forgive, forgive and forgive with a wide and open heart.

Of course, it is not possible suddenly to acquire such a profound and abundant peace that would swallow up every insulting blow. The first degree of insusceptibility to offences and, consequently, forgiveness is silence. When they offend thee ­ keep silent. Do so one time, and the next time thou wilt keep silent more easily; and the more often thou wilt keep silent, the more often thou wilt meet offenses with less disturbance. Lack of disturbance will bring rest, while rest will be reborn as peace. Then, in the face of offenses thou wilt be as a firm wall exposed to grains of sand flung up by the wind.

The frequent forgiving of offenses not only imparts ease and skill to this, but develops even a thirst for offenses, for the Lord's sake, during which he who is struck on the cheek turns the other, and he who is forced to go one mile goes two. This is a height which seems unattainable to us, but to which he who has begun to forgive as one ought ascends easily, naturally, without special efforts.

The forgiving of offenses is a most attractive virtue, often bringing into the heart a reward for itself.

(Parish Life, May 1996)


Lessons from the Fathers - On Fasting

If thou, O man, dost not forgive everyone who has sinned against thee, then do not trouble thyself with fasting. If thou dost not forgive the debt of thy brother, with whom thou art angry for some reason, then thou dost fast in vain ­ God will not accept thee. Fasting will not help thee, until thou wilt become accomplished in love and in the hope of faith. Whoever fasts and becomes angry, and harbors enmity in his heart, such a one hates God and salvation is far from him. ­ Venerable Ephraim the Syrian.

It is necessary most of all for one who is fasting to curb anger, to accustom himself to meekness and condescension, to have a contrite heart, to repulse impure thoughts and desires, to examine his conscience, to put his mind to the test and to verify what good has been done by us in this or any other week, and which deficiency we have corrected in ourselves in the present week. This is true fasting. ­ Saint John Chrysostom.

A excellent faster is he who restrains himself from every impurity, who imposes abstinence on his tongue and restrains it from idle talk, foul language, slander, condemnation, flattery and all manner of evil­speaking, who abstains from anger, rage, malice and vengeance and withdraws from every evil. ­ Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk.

Seest thou what fasting does: it heals illnesses, drives out demons, removes wicked thoughts, makes the heart pure. If someone has even been seized by an impure spirit, let him know that this kind, according to the word of the Lord, "goeth not out but by prayer and fasting" (Matthew 17:21). ­ Saint Athanasius the Great.

By fasting it is possible both to be delivered from future evils and to enjoy the good things to come. We fell into disease through sin; let us receive healing through repentance, which is not fruitful without fasting. ­ Saint Basil the Great.

The strictness of the Quadragesima [the Forty Days] mortifies the passions, extinguishes anger and rage, cools and calms every agitation springing up from gluttony. And just as in the summer, when the burning heat of the sun spreads over the earth, the northern wind renders a benefaction to those who are scorched, by dispersing the sultriness with a tender coolness: so fasting also provides the same, by driving out of bodies the burning which is the result of overeating. ­ Saint Asterius of Amasia.

As bodily food fattens the body, so fasting strengthens the soul; imparting it an easy flight, it makes it able to ascend on high, to contemplate lofty things and to put the heavenly higher than the pleasant and pleasurable things of life. ­ Saint John Chrysostom.

Fasts do not shorten a man's life. Venerable Symeon the Stylite lived for 103 years, Saint Cyril the Anchorite lived 108 years, Saint Alypius the Stylite ­ 118, Venerable John the Silent ­ 104 years, Anthony and Theodosius the Great ­ for 105 years, Venerable Paul of Thebes ­ 113, Paul of Komel ­ 112, Venerable Macarius of Alexandria ­ 100, Venerable Sergius of Radonezh ­ 78, Venerable Cyril Belozersky ­ 90, Macarius Zheltovodsky ­ 95.

Do not neglect the Forty Days; it constitutes an imitation of Christ's way of life. Saint Ignatius the God­bearer.

The point is not only that we should come to church each day, that we should continually listen to one and the same thing, and that we should fast for the whole Forty Days. No! If we, from continually coming here and listening to the teaching, do not acquire anything and do not derive any good for our soul from the time of the fast ­ all this does not procure for us any benefit, but rather serves for our greater condemnation, when despite such concern for us by the Church we remain just the same as before.

Do not say to me that I fasted for so many days, that I did not eat this or that, that I did not drink wine, that I endured want; but show me if thou from an angry man hast become gentle, if thou from a cruel man hast become benevolent. If thou art filled with anger, why oppress thy flesh? If hatred and avarice are within thee, of what benefit is it that thou drinkest water? Do not show forth a useless fast: for fasting alone does not ascend to heaven. Saint John Chrysostom

Let thy mind fast from vain thoughts; let thy memory fast from remembering evil; let thy will fast from evil desire; let thine eyes fast from bad sights: turn away thine eyes that thou mayest not see vanity; let thine ears fast from vile songs and slanderous whispers; let thy tongue fast from slander, condemnation, blasphemy, falsehood, deception, foul language and every idle and rotten word; let thy hands fast from killing and from stealing another's goods; let thy legs fast from going to evil deeds: Turn away from evil, and do good. Saint Tikhon of Zadonsk

The holy fasters did not approach strict fasting suddenly, but little by little they became capable of being satisfied by the most meagre food. Despite all this they did not know weakness, but were always hale and ready for action. Among them sickness was rare, and their life was extraordinarily lengthy.

To the extent that the flesh of the faster becomes thin and light, spiritual life arrives at perfection and reveals itself through wondrous manifestations, and the spirit performs its actions as if in a bodiless body. External feelings are shut off, and the mind that renounces the earth is raised up to heaven and is wholly immersed in the contemplation of the spiritual world. Venerable Seraphim of Sarov

The more days of fasting there are, the better the healing is; the longer the period of abstinence, the more abundant the gain of salvation is. Blessed Augustine

These quotations from the Fathers are from: Parish Life, April 1994


Parish Life March, 1995

10 Questions on Forgiveness Sunday - Answers


St Tikhon answers this question quite well:

"Today is called "Forgiveness Sunday". It received this name from the pious Orthodox Christian custom at Vespers of asking each other's forgiveness for discourtesy and disrespect. We do so, since in the forthcoming fast we will approach the sacrament of Penance and ask the Lord to forgive our sins, which forgiveness will be granted us only if we ourselves forgive each other. "If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." (Matt. 6.14, 15)" (From a sermon by St Patriarch Tikhon, when he was Bishop of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. 1901. Text taken from email posted to an Orthodox mailing list)


On the last Sunday before Great Lent begins, we remember the expulsion of Adam and Eve from paradise.

Adam was banished from Paradise through disobedience / and cast out from delight, / beguiled by the words of a woman. / Naked he sat outside the garden, lamenting 'Woe is me!' / Therefore let us all make haste to accept the season of the Fast / and hearken to the teaching of the Gospel, / that we may gain Christ's mercy // and receive once more a dwelling-place in Paradise. (Sticheron from Lord I have cried, 6th tone, Forgiveness Sunday)


Forgiveness Sunday is the last day in which we eat milk, cheese, eggs and other dairy products until Pascha.

It is also the last Sunday we will serve St. John Chrysostom's liturgy until Pascha. During the holy fast, St Basil's liturgy is served on Sundays.

The matins service for this weekend is the last time the theologically rich and compunctionate singing of "By the Waters of Babylon" psalm until next year. It is only sung in church the three Sundays that precede Great Lent.


The services of the church and the fathers stress over and over that our physical fast from food is useless if we do not also strive to "fast" from our iniquities. Fasting from food is an important aid to the help purify the soul, and to gain in virtue.

The season of the virtues now has come / and the Judge is at the door. / Let us not hold back with darkened face, / but let us keep the Fast, / offering tears, contrition and almsgiving; / and let us cry: / 'Our sins are more in number than the sand of the sea; / but, Deliverer of all, forgive each one of us, // that we may receive an incorruptible crown.' (Sessional Hymns after the 1st Psalter Reading)

The arena of the virtues has been opened. / Let all who wish to struggle for the prize now enter, / girding themselves for the noble contest of the Fast; / for those that strive lawfully are justly crowned. / Taking up the armor of the Cross, / let us make war against the enemy. / Let us have as our invincible rampart the Faith, / prayer as our breastplate, and as our helmet almsgiving; / and as our sword / let us use fasting that cuts away all evil from our heart. / If we do this, we shall receive the true crown // from Christ the King of all at the Day of Judgment. (Praises)

Adam was driven out of Paradise, / because in disobedience he had eaten food; / but Moses was granted the vision of God, / because he had cleansed the eyes of his soul by fasting. / If then we long to dwell in Paradise, / let us abstain from all needless food; / and if we desire to see God, / let us like Moses fast for forty days. / With sincerity let us persevere in prayer and intercession; / let us still the passions of our soul; / let us subdue the rebellious instincts of the flesh. / With light step let us set out upon the path to heaven, / where the choirs of angels with never-silent voice / sing the praises of the undivided Trinity; / and there we shall behold the surpassing beauty of the Master. / O Son of God, Giver of Life, / in Thee we set our hope: / count us worthy of a place there with the angelic hosts, / at the intercessions of the Mother who bore Thee, O Christ, / of the apostles and the martyrs // and of all the saints.' (Praises)


On the first Sunday of Great Lent we celebrate the "Triumph of Orthodoxy".


During all of Great Lent, we eat no animal products (with one exception). We abstain from all flesh meat, fish, milk, cheese and other milk products, eggs, olive oil, wine and hard liquor on all weekdays (Monday through and including Friday). On the weekend (Saturday and Sunday), the fast is relaxed a little. We can have olive oil or wine if we wish. On Annunciation, fish is allowed, since this is such a joyful feast of the Mother of God.


The first 4 evening of Great Lent (Clean Monday through Clean Thursday), we serve Great Compline, and a portion of the Great Canon of St Andrew of Crete. During Matins for the 5th Thursday of Great Lent, (usually served Wednesday evening), we read the life of St. Mary of Egypt, and chant the Great Canon in its entirety.


The Great Canon is a one way dialogue of St Andrew speaking to his soul. We would do well to put ourselves in his place when the canon is being chanted.


The Great canon is a dialogue between St Andrew of Crete and his soul. He brings to bear many examples of the righteous and the unrighteous from the Old and New Testaments in order to show himself good and bad examples, make himself ashamed of his sins, and spur himself to repentance. There is also significant mystical theology and typology that the saint elucidates in the midst of his lamentations.


Humility, and with it, self-knowledge. Hope in God, because of knowledge of WHO HE IS.

All unsigned or unattributed portions Copyright 1998 Fr Seraphim Holland

Address: 2102 Summit, McKinney TX 75071

Phone: 972 529-2754



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Russian Orthodox Church
of St Nicholas
Dallas, Texas
Phone: 972 529-2754
Priest Seraphim Holland
Web Editor:
Fr. Seraphim Holland
Snail Mail:
2102 Summit, McKinney TX 75071, USA

All rights reserved. Please use this Orthodox Christian material in any way that is edifying to your soul, and copy it for personal use if you so desire. We ask that you contact St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox Church if you wish to distribute it in any way.