Great Lent Begins

On Sunday, February 26, the Church gathered for Vespers, as it has nightly in homes, catacombs, parishes, monasteries, and cathedrals around the world for the last 2,000 years. As we closed Vespers, “Glory to Thee, O Christ our God and our hope, glory to Thee,” we lined up to ask — and offer — forgiveness of each other. To each person in the parish, we looked her or him in the eye and said, “Forgive me, my sister (or brother) in Christ,” and then we knelt down in prostration. When we stood back up, each of us said, “God forgives. And I forgive. Pray for me, a sinner.” This humility and mutual forgiveness is at the heart of our life in Christ, since all of my sins, however “small,” impact all of the world, just as all of our love, forgiveness, and mercy extends the hand of God into this world. Truly asking forgiveness and giving it is hard. Yet it is our call from Our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who Himself forgave, even as He was dying on the cross. This is the beginning of Lent, Forgiveness Sunday, and, in these next 40 days of the Fast, may we keep our eyes ever on Christ, His cross, and His resurrection.