Voices from Russia

Sunday, 18 February 2018

18 February 2018. It’s Forgiveness Sunday… Lent Starts Tomorrow

Forgiveness Sunday

Sebastyan Likan

undated

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Forgive Me!

God Forgives!

Today is Forgiveness Sunday… all Orthodox Christians ask forgiveness of those about them for their offences of the past year.  For us, Lent begins on Clean Monday… then, we’re on the Lenten road to Easter. Lent isn’t an end in itself… it’s a preparation for the Easter Feast of the Resurrection… the central moment of the Church Year, as we Orthodox Christians see it. This year, Easter is on 8 April, my birthday. It’s a double feast for me! To all my friends, “Forgive Me!” for all that I’ve done and not done… may the Good Lord give you a most profitable Lent, leading to a most glorious and joyous Radiant Easter!

BMD

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Forgiveness Sunday

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It’s no surprise, Orthodox Christians are keen on the Rite of Forgiveness and the service that surrounds it… here’s a little more about this observance. It’s the last Sunday before the start of Lent, so the Rite of Forgiveness occurs during Vespers before the cross and the icons of the Saviour and the Most-Holy Birthgiver. By the way, the rite is very evocative. Firstly, the priest asks for forgiveness. He makes a reverence before the holy things and kisses them; then, he asks forgiveness from the clergy and believers. After that, all present ask forgiveness from one another. On this day, we can bring to those near us our sincere repentance for all our voluntary and involuntary sins so that we can remove the heavy stone of guilt from ourselves. Of course, we heartily forgive everybody else. Because of this, God forgives us and this puts us right with Him. The clergy are in dark vestments to remind us that the Great Lent is beginning… the Holy 40 Days of the Fast. Brothers and sisters, may God help you to carry out this podvig*, for the sake of our Lord Jesus Christ, for the sake of love to our family, and for the sake of the Holy Image which is hidden in us, but which can shine a light to illuminate the souls of others!

  • Podvig: Should NEVER be “Englished”… one of the most powerful words in the Russian language. There are literally no English equivalents strong enough. Podvig has overtones of “epic”, “heroic”, “bravery”, “self-sacrifice”, “victory”, “effort”, and “triumph”. It’s best to leave it as is, and admit that English lacks the necessary material to give meaning to this word.

Marfa-Mariinskoe House of Mercy

18 February 2018

Youth Department of the Diocese of the City of Moscow

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Thursday, 15 February 2018

15 February 2018. A Thought from Vladyki Lazar

“Everyone needs to carry their cross”… this reminds me of puffed-up clergy such as Trenham, Paffhausen, Damick, and Reardon… they turn more people away from Christ and His Church than they attract to it… those that they do attract are nutters we’re better off without.

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It isn’t that atheists in the West don’t believe in God; rather, many of them believe in Him, but hate Him. This is because they see the Western God as being “out to get them”. He’s preached as vain and vindictive, looking for an excuse to punish you, while claiming to love you.

Photios Kontoglou

Indeed, God is preached, not only in the West, but by some Orthodox clergy, as being the supreme child-abusing father who pretends to forgive, but actually punishes his own Son in the most hideous manner on behalf of mankind for his own satisfaction. However, punishment and forgiveness are mutually exclusive. You can have one or the other, but not both. Who actually would want to spend eternity in the house of an abusive father?

13 February 2018

Bishop Lazar Puhalo

Saturday, 10 February 2018

10 February 2018. Some Thoughts from Vladyki Lazar

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Frankly, I’m not so certain why the existence of evil should be an enigma. Evil is primarily “the absence of empathy”, which is why the two prime commands of Christ are to love God will all your being and to have empathy for your neighbour (which is the only way that you could love your neighbour as yourself). Loss of empathy is evident in the “Fall” story because it chronicles the birth of ego, egoism, and self-love. Those characteristics are at the very essence of Satan and the root of the demonic. Perhaps, this is why Romanides insisted that the way to defeat Satan was through growth in unselfish love.

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Please, please, people of faith, don’t assert what “Jesus would do” or what “Jesus wouldn’t do”. Nobody knows the answer to that, and it’s such a tired formula. Moreover, it really is important to remember that we follow the Christ, and it isn’t painful to refer to Him as Jesus Christ or Christ Jesus (I realise that’s primarily the Orthodox Christian practice, but I’d like to encourage our fellow Christians to practise it also). Salvation really does consists in the restoration of the human nature to unity with God in the person of Christ Jesus, who has saved us, not by being a human sacrifice to God, but by ransoming us from the power of death, thus redeeming us from the bondage to “him who held the power of death”. He’s the recapitulation (as Apostle Paul says) of the human nature. He accomplished this because He is the Christ, Who is fully God become also, at the same time, without dilution or admixture, fully wholly human… ending, in Himself, the alienation of the human nature from the Divine, and making our Theosis possible. Jesus is never “just Jesus”… He’s always and inseparably the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Remember… we follow Him… He doesn’t follow us.

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