Update

On Cheesefare Sunday

Expulsion from Eden_The Consequences of freedom without responsibility

On this Sunday the Holy Church focuses on the memory of the exile of our ancestral parents from paradise for disobedience and intemperance in order that through misfortune it more evidently emphasizes the importance of the presented ascetical effort for all, and in the loss of the blessedness of paradise it specifies a subject, worthy of repentance and tears. The example of the ancestral parents shows us the whole weight of sin and its fatal consequences and teaches us to avoid intemperance as the beginning and the source of sin, and to turn to repentance, as to the unique means of deliverance from the anger and judgment of God. “Adam was cast out”, sings the Holy Church on this day, “from the sweetness of paradise, when with bitter desire he broke the commandment of the Master, and he was condemned to work the earth from which he himself had been taken, and then to eat his bread with much toil; therefore let us love abstinence, that we may not weep outside of paradise as he did, but enter into it”; “Let us keep the fast offering tears, contrition and alms”, “Let us still the passions of our soul, let us subdue the rebelliousness of the flesh”; “Girding ourselves for the good spiritual struggle of the fast” and “Taking up the armor of the cross, let us fight the enemy, having faith as an invincible wall, and prayer as a breastplate, and alms as a helmet, and fasting as a sword, which cuts away all evil from our heart”; “Let us brightly begin the season of fasting preparing ourselves for the spiritual struggle”; “Now is the favorable time, now is the season of repentance, let us cut off the works of darkness, and clothe ourselves in the armor of light: that having sailed across the great expanse of the Fast, we may reach the three-day Resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Saviour of our souls”.

With this tender, touching voice the Holy Church calls us as her children from the present day to forget everything that up to now occupied our thoughts and feelings and distracted them from “the one thing needful”; to reject everything from itself that serviced temptation and occasion for sin, that raised in us impure thoughts and feelings, that originated in us sinful desires and currents; to postpone for a while even our ordinary affairs and occupations, in so far as they soon distract our thoughts from a reverent deepening in our very selves, they irritate our heart with feelings of anger and envy, dreams of ambition and covetousness; to make itself thirsty for long prayerful vigils, fervent prayers and prostrations; to ignite in oneself an unshakable desire, voluntarily and vigilantly, thanking and glorifying the Lord to now enter the opening door of the saving fast, repentance and spiritual renewal; to kindle in itself a firm determination to pass the holy days of the fast fervently, reverently and joyfully. In the gospel and epistle readings, the Holy Church presents its final teachings about the spiritual efforts of the actual fast.

Vespers of Forgiveness

The Fast should begin with the forgiveness by the people of their trespasses and their rejection of the deeds of darkness consisting of an unfeigned fulfillment of the rules of keeping the fast and not to judge their neighbour. Reconcilement with all, the pardon and remission of all our transgressions, is the first, main and necessary condition of our reconcilement with God, cleansing and correcting our sins. Without this reconcilement with all, without this putting an end to mutual conflicts and enmity among us, it is impossible to draw near to the Lord. It is impossible even to begin the holy journey to Lent and repentance. From here came a custom of Orthodox Christians to ask each other forgiveness, and is the same as when they to go to the graves of the dead for this purpose and is why the day is called in popular speech forgiveness and farewell. It is self understood, that not only with our mouth, but also mainly with our heart we should utter a full, complete forgiveness not only for something which insults us, but also for all that is hateful and offends us, all that condemns and curses us, all that makes every evil for us. We should try to bow with true – Christian humility for reconciliation and for which the devil, according to his evil and slander, had the misfortune to offend us in word and deed. Saint John Chrysostom teaches: “We should not forgive one another only by words, but with a pure heart so that our memory of the evil will not turn the sword against us. Our having been offended will not cause us evil as much as we cause ourselves, feeding the anger in ourselves and exposing ourselves to condemnation by God for that. If we love those who offend us, then evil will be turned on its very head, and it will continue to suffer severely; but if we will be indignant, then we shall continue to suffer all the same even in spite of ourselves.”

Exclamation Point

Hymns from the Triodion

Mode 5

“Woe is me!” cried Adam in lament, that a serpent and a woman

have deprived me of  intimate communion with God; and eating

from the tree has estranged me from the

Paradise of delight. Whoe is me, for I cannot

bear the disgrace! Once the jing of all

God’s creatures on the earth, I am now

viewed as a hostage because of one piece of

illicit advice; and though once vested with

the glory of immortality, I, as mortal, carry

about the skin of deadness lamentably.

Woe is me! Which lamentation shall I enlist to

collaborate with me? But You, Friend of

man, who fashioned me from the earth, and

who donned compassion; recall me from

servitude to the enemy and save me.”

Mode 5

“The stadium of virtue is now open; those

who wish to compete, enter therein, girded

for the good contest of Lent, for those who

compete according to the rules shall receive

their laurels rightfully. Taking up the full

armor of the Cross, let us do battle against

the Enemy. As an impregnable wall, we

have the Faith, prayer as our breastplate,

and acts of mercy as our helmet. Instead of

sword, there is fasting, which cuts every

evil from the heart. He who does this shall

attain a true crown from Christ, the King of

all, on Judgment Day.”

Mode 6

“Adam was evicted from Paradise as one

disobedient, after partaking of its luxury.

Moses saw God, after cleansing the eyes of

his soul by fasting. Hence if we desire to

become residents of Paradise, let us divorce

ourselves from baleful delights, and desiring

to see God, as did Moses let us fast the

Four Times Ten. By sincerely persevering

in prayer and supplication, let us suppress

the passions of our souls; let us avert the

swellings of the flesh; thus lightened, let us

set off on the journey to things above,

where the choirs of angels in unbroken

song sing praise to the undivided Trinity, to

see the irresistible beauty of the Master. O

Son of God and Giver of Life, we who set

our hope on You entreat: Make us worthy

of dancing with the armies of angels, O

Christ, at the intercession of Your Mother,

the Apostles, Martyrs and all the Saints.”

Mode 6

“The time has come, the start of our spiritual contests,

the victory over demons, the full armor of self-control,

the angels’ dignity, the confidence before God.

Thereby did Moses become conversant with the Creator,

and heard the invisible voice.

Lord, through fasting make us worthy to worship

Your Passion and holy Resurrection,

as You love humanity.

Fr Seraphim Dedes

Source: The Hymns are translated by Fr.Seraphim Dedes

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