PASTORAL LETTER FOR GREAT LENT - 2010
THE MOST REVEREND
Archbishop of New York
Metropolitan of All America
Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church
Great Lent, 2010
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
Slava Isusu Khrystu! - Glory to Jesus Christ! - Gloria a Jesucristo!
At the helm of a new decade, we as a church once again enter into the renewing season of Great Lent. Since Lent, among other things, is a time of introspection, honesty and an occasion to admit wrongs and make amends, we would all do well to use this time wisely.
In the thirteenth chapter of the Gospel of Luke, read on the third Sunday of Lent in some lectionaries this year, Jesus offers his listeners the parable of the fig tree that did not produce fruit. The owner of the property wanted the caretaker to chop down the tree, since it was of no use to him. Instead, the caretaker suggested that the the tree be allowed to stand for one year more, and that he would give it special and extra attention. Perhaps then, it would bear fruit, and if no, then the owner could remove the tree.
The Lord the master and owner of our souls and of our lives. We are the caretakers. He expects us to bear fruit, but is also willing to give us extra opportunities that, with attention and loving care, will allow for the dark and badly-formed baggage we bear to be wiped way, so that we can make something productive and good for God.
Lent is this time of opportunity to cleanse and to renew. The disciplines of Lent are meant to carry into the remainder of the year, so that, with each new opportunity, we may become closer to a productive, gracious and honest individual that God expects.
Brothers and sisters, now is the time for us to throw off every type of personal barrier, mental or physical, that bars us from being Godly. It is the time to turn over the soil that is our spirits and tend it, casting off the weeds that lead to self-absorption, self-righteousness and the feeling of some special form of privileged existence. All of these things cloud our lives, cast us deeper into wrong, mistaken and unjust assumptions and forbid the life of God - the activity of the Holy Spirit, from working with the good qualities we have to offer.
I pray that we will all use this year's Lent as a new beginning in our spiritual lives, open to the new opportunities that God constantly offers us and that the beginning of another decade, another "chunk of time" in the rhythm of life, will serve as a reminder that these opportunities exist and are possible - if we do the work of "taking care" of what we have.
May our journeys go well, dear friends, and as we travel, we remain united in prayer.
Faithfully Yours in Christ,
Metropolitan-Archbishop of New York
note: The featured icon hangs above the proskomedia table in the sanctuary of the Cathedral of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross, Uzhorod, Ukraine.
Joseph with Nicodemus took you down from the tree, your pure body wrapped in light as with a robe, but seeing you lifeless, naked and unburied, began to weep and lament, saying, "Great is my sorrow, O sweet Jesus!" The sun, seeing you hanging on the cross was clothed in darkness, teh earth quaked in fear and the curtain of the temple was torn asunder. But, behold, I now see you as accepting death for my sake. How, O my God, shall I bury you? With what type of shroud shall I wrap you? With what hands shall I touch your body not subject to decay? O Gracious Lord, with what songs shall I sing of your departure? I extol your suffering, I extol in song your burial and resurrection, calling out, "O Lord, glory to you."
(Final sticheron of the Apostica, Vespers of Great Friday)
Go to Lenten Regulations and Prayers