To the clergy, monastics and faithful of our God-protected Diocese:
Blessed be the upcoming Great Paschal Lent which brings us into the Lord’s and our Pascha—through the Cross and Resurrection—Christ’s and ours in Him.
This Sunday we look to forgiveness as we enter the holy journey of Great Lent. On this day we are reminded of Adam and Eve’s banishment from Paradise and of their failure to remain faithful to the gift of personal communion with God.
Now, my beloved, through the practice of fasting, the Church – and fasting is our obedience to the Church – invites us to liberate ourselves from our self-sufficiency and to offer the fruits of Lent—joy, meekness, peace, mercifulness—to our beloved ones and to those in need.
As the sacred hymnography of the Church urges us, all the ascetic elements – fasting, abstinence, frugality, restriction of personal desires, intense prayer, and confession – are essential to the period of Great Lent and should not be considered burdensome obligations or unbearable duties that result in despondency or dejection.
All these ascetical efforts and all cleansing from the passions are in essence preconditions for our Eucharistic communion with God, and this communion cannot be understood apart from love. Just as the sacrifice on the Cross takes its meaning from the Resurrection, so all our Lenten effort finds their fulfillment in Holy Communion.
Let us be
obedient to the counsel of the Church and understand the practice of fasting just as She prescribes. In doing so we will walk together with Christ to Golgotha and rejoice with Him on the Feast of Feasts!
In inviting you to the “opened arena of virtues” from our episcopal seat, I extend to all of you my paternal prayer and spiritual blessing for a fruitful journey through the period of Great Lent, asking your forgiveness.
Given this Day of Forgiveness February 26th, 2012 at Alhambra, California
Love and paternal blessings,