HOLY AND GREAT LENT: SAILING ON THE SHIP OF SALVATION

My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,

CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.

HOLY AND GREAT LENT:
SAILING ON THE SHIP OF SALVATION

Let us pray to the Lord. Kyrie eleison.

+ In the Name of the Father and of the Son and

of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Psalm 50 [51]

Have mercy on me, O God, according to Your great mercy, and
according to the abundance of Your compassion, blot out my transgression.
Wash me thoroughly from my lawlessness, and my sin is always before me.
Against You only have I sinned and done evil in Your sight; that You may be
justified in Your words, and overcome when You are judged. For behold, I
was conceived in transgressions, and in sins, my mother bore me. Behold,
You love truth; You showed me the unknown and secret things of Your wisdom.
You shall sprinkle me with hyssop, and I will be cleansed; You shall wash me,
and I will be made whiter than snow. You shall make me hear joy and gladness;
my bones that were humbled shall greatly rejoice. Turn Your face from my sins,
and blot out all my transgressions. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew
a right spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not
take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, and
uphold me with Your guiding Spirit. I will teach transgressors Your ways, and
the ungodly shall turn back to You. Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God,
the God of my salvation, and my tongue shall greatly rejoice in Your righteousness.
O Lord, You shall open my lips, and my mouth will declare Your praise. For if You
desired sacrifice, I would give it; You will not be pleased with whole burnt offerings
A SACRIFICE TO GOD IS A BROKEN SPIRIT, A BROKEN AND HUMBLED
HEART WILL NOT DESPISE. Do good, O Lord, in Your good pleasure to Zion, and
let the walls of Jerusalem be built; then You will be pleased WITH A SACRIFICE OF
RIGHTEOUSNESS, with offerings and whole burnt offerings; then shall they offer young bulls on Your altar.

+

O Christ our God, who at all times and at every hour, both in heaven and on earth, are
worshipped and glorified, long-suffering and plenteous in mercy and compassion; who
love the just and show mercy to the sinners; who call all men to salvation through the
promise of the blessings to come: Do You, the same Lord, receive also our supplications
at this present time, and direct our lives according to Your commandments. Sanctify our
souls; purify our bodies; set our minds right; clear up our thoughts, and deliver us from
every sorrow, evil, and distress. Surround us with Your holy Angels so that being guarded
and guided by their presence, we may arrive at the unity of the faith and the knowledge of
Your ineffable glory; for blessed are You unto the ages of ages. Amen.

PRAYER OF SAINT EPHRAIM THE SYRIAN

O Lord and Master of my life, do not permit
the spirit of laziness and meddling, the lust for
power and idle talk to come into me.

Instead, grant me, Your servant, THE SPIRIT OF
PRUDENCE, HUMILITY, PATIENCE, AND LOVE.

Yes, Lord and King, give me the power TO SEE
MY OWN FAULTS AND NOT TO JUDGE MY BROTHER. FOR
You are Blessed unto the ages of ages. Amen.

PRAYER OF SAINT IOANNIKIOS

The Father is my hope, the Son is my refuge,
the Holy Spirit is my shelter, Holy Trinity, glory to
Thee.

O Mother of God, I have committed my every hope wholly unto you. Keep me under your
shelter. Amen.

The only way to travel to our divine destination is to be on board the Ark of Salvation, our Holy Orthodox Church. We all know that to be a passenger on this holy Ark there is spiritual preparation that we must all undergo before we board it. Holy and Great Lent and all other holy seasons throughout the ecclesiastical year provide us with the opportunities to do just that. Very prudently our Mother Church guides and encourages us to take advantage of these opportunities and prepare for the long and one-way journey to eternal life. This is why we must take seriously Holy and Great Lent. We should not treat this spiritual preparation lightly or sentimentally. Holy and Great Lent is not just a Greek custom that we follow out of habit or because it is expected of us by family members or our fellow Orthodox friends. To do so is a waste of time and effort. It is imperative that we have a profound understanding of its purpose and how spiritually important it is to us.

Everything that we do out of faith provides us with the opportunity to have a personal encounter with our God. The Almighty is in control of everything: our life, our past, our present, and our future. Our Lord Jesus Christ says clearly: "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him bears much fruit; FOR WITHOUT ME YOU CAN DO NOTHING" (St. John 15:5). According to Saint Theophylactos, "Jesus uses the example of the branch to illustrate the Life-Giving power He imparts to those who please Him. "A branch bears fruit only if it is joined to the vine and receives from it synergetic power to produce new life. So it is with you. If you "ABIDE" in Me by keeping My commandments, you will bear more fruit. If NOT, YOU WILL WITHER."

Take advantage of the opportunity to grow closer to our Creator and Savior. By following the Holy Tradition of our Church and acquiring the right knowledge of it, Holy Lent can be of great benefit to you: by fasting, you will improve your health bodily and spiritually, by praying more often you will find inner peace, by repenting and reconciling with your enemies through the sacrament of Repentance/Confession you free yourself from anger and hatred, by becoming more philanthropic and touching the lives of those that have no hope you strengthen your love for your fellow man, by forgiving others you free yourself from anxiety, by believing in the Resurrection of Christ and ours, you relieve yourself of the fear of death, and by worshipping together and being a member of your Christian community you eliminate loneliness. The benefits are great for one who truly is committed to the Faith.

Holy Lent works also like a giant spiritual furnace. We, as humans, place a great value on gold. Throughout the centuries, man has been fascinated by it and sought to find it and to use it for various purposes. Even today we use modern technology and go miles deep down in the earth to find it and to retrieve it. But when it is mined it is raw ore filled with impurities and mixed with other metals. The process is to expose the ore to high heat in order to remove all the other impurities and to see the pure gold. Holy Lent does, to some extent, the same thing spiritually. Through fasting, prayer, repentance, we free and purge our souls from all infirmities and impurities and rediscover the holy "image" of God within us. Our immortal souls once again will be brilliant as pure gold.

Let us not minimize the spiritual significance of Holy and Great Lent. There are those who attempt to marginalize the spiritual impact that it has on those who are willing to fast, pray, repent, reconcile, and attend the divine services with an open heart. There are others that mock and redicule the holy tradition of our Church and see absolutely no value to it. Instead, they refuse to adhere to it in any way or form. Still, there are others who use pseudo-piety to distract and deviate from the authentic and genuine purpose of Holy Lent.

The blessing of the Lord and His mercy may come upon you,
through His Divine Grace and philanthropy, now and forever
and from all ages to all ages. Amen.

____________________

"Glory Be To GOD
For
All Things!"

– Saint John Chrysostomos

+ + +

With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God

+ Father George

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