Monday, March 14, 2005

Lent: Beginnings Part II

Yesterday we celebrated the beginning of Lent. I have been looking forward to this Lent for quite a while. Last night we began the fast with Forgiveness Vespers. This was my first full-blown Forgiveness Vespers - Great Vespers plus the actual forgiveness part: we lined up around the church and went around, making a small metanoia and asking forgiveness of everyone. The tradition has monastic roots, but, especially in today's world I can see the benefits of holding the service in every parish.

Emotionalism, as I understand it, is not really part of Orthodoxy. Orthodoxy always appeals to the entire human being - mind, body, soul; rational aspect and emotional aspect together in one integrated whole. Still, sometimes one part is felt more than the other. As I went around the church yesterday, with tears in my eyes as I asked forgiveness of Fr. Gerasimos and Fr. Elias at the front of the line that was forming around the church, I could not have wished for a better beginning to Lent. Magda was right behind me and as I finished going along the circle and found my spot, she came in front of me and we were both crying. It has been a difficult journey at times for both of us to get here - absolutely wonderful, but not without its hard times. So, bowing in front of one another at the beginning of the journey to Pascha, we were crying, but we were happy looking at the road ahead. It was perhaps the first time that I felt I understood the term 'joyful sorrow' and I thank God for it. May all our journeys to the Lord's Resurrection be blessed.

Lent also provided us with good news. We have a new adult education program at the parish. The survey went out, we received a significant number of responses the same day and we were able to draft a curriculum for the five Sundays of Lent. May our Lord enlighten and direct us and may He bear fruit through us a hundredfold.


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