GREAT LENT 2018 – Protocol N. 3/2018
My Beloved Faithful Clergy and Laity of Our God-Protected Diocese:
As we begin Holy and Great Lent this year on February 19th, 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.
Holy and Great Lent is a truly beautiful period of time filled with moments in which we can focus our hearts and our minds on the grace of God. Through daily prayer, fasting, worship, and giving to others and by the grace of God our lives will continue to be transformed by Him and our souls will be drawn closer and closer to our Lord Jesus Christ!
In the hymns and services of the Triodion period and at the entrance of this holy season of Great Lent, we are called to repentance. We are invited to come before God in the humility of the Publican. We are beckoned to return to His dwelling and His compassionate embrace as the Prodigal Son. We are confronted with the causes of our separation from God and our need for His great mercy. It is truly a time of repentance as we prepare to commemorate and contemplate all that has been done for us through Christ our Lord.
This solemn and reflective journey is not one of despair. This is not a time of inconsolable grief or deep anguish and anxiety. Holy and Great Lent is a time of spiritual renewal in which repentance finds forgiveness and grace, engenders hope, strengthens our faith and leads us to abundant and eternal life.
We know through the Gospel that genuine repentance receives forgiveness and grace. The sincerity of the Publican expressed in his cry, “God, be merciful to me a sinner” was recognized by God, and his sins were forgiven (Luke 18:13 – 14). We also know that repentance nurtures hope. God’s grace transforms us, as we see the blessedness of life restored to communion with Him, we experience the joy of hope. For the Prodigal Son it was the journey to return to the house of his father, hoping that something better awaited. As through repentance we receive forgiveness and grace and our hearts are filled with hope, our faith is strengthened. As we prepare to celebrate the fulfillment of God’s promise to defeat death, restore us to life, and lead us to the Resurrection, our faith in Him grows.
At the beginning of Great Lent, let us contemplate the power of repentance and take this opportunity to examine our hearts and minds. Let us pray for humility in seeking the forgiveness and grace of God, returning to communion with Him. Let us find renewed hope in the light, peace and joy that comes from our Crucified and Risen Christ.
I pray that this Holy and Great Lent season is a spiritually uplifting time for all of us.
Working in His Vineyard with much love for all of you,
+BISHOP GREGORY OF NYSSA