My beloved brothers and sisters in Christ God,
CHRIST IS IN OUR MIDST! HE WAS, IS, AND EVER SHALL BE.
SUNDAY OF THE CHEESEFARE
The holy Fathers of the Church have appointed the commemoration of Adam’s exile from the Paradise of delight here, on the eve of the holy Forty-day Fast, demonstrating to us not by simple words, but by actual deeds, HOW BENEFICIAL FASTING IS FOR MAN, and how harmful and destructive are insatiety and the transgressing of the Divine Commandments. For the First Commandment that God gave to man was THAT OF FASTING, which the first-fashioned received but did not keep, and not only did they not become gods, as they had imagined, but they lost even that blessed life which they had, and they fell into corruption and death and TRANSMITTED THESE AND INNUMERABLE OTHER EVILS TO ALL OF MANKIND. The God-bearing Fathers set these things before us, that brings to mind what we have fallen from, and what we have suffered because of the insatiety and DISOBEDIENCE OF THE FIRST-FASHIONED (ADAM), we might be diligent to return again to that occasion from today’s Gospel (Matthew 6:14-21) to begin the Fast unencumbered by enmity, we also ask FORGIVENESS THIS DAY, FIRST FROM GOD, THEN FROM ONE ANOTHER AND ALL CREATION.
The holy Fathers desire to show how shameful are the results of gluttony and disobedience. Omitting instances without number recounting the vices in the world, the holy Fathers have set forth a vivid example in the first-created Adam. Due to the latter’s FAILURE TO FAST, HE CAME TO SUFFER MANY EVILS. Disregarding God’s First Commandment of a beneficial fast, he yielded to the desires of his belly and of the serpent through Eve. Adam and Eve not only failed to become as gods but also transmitted to our nature corruption, death, and numerous other evils.
On account of Adam’s intemperance, our Lord FASTED FOR FORTY DAYS AND WAS OBEDIENT TO THE LAW OF FASTING. Furthermore, this is the reason that the Holy Fathers INSTITUTED THE FORTY-DAY FAST so that as Adam FORFEITED INCORRUPTION THROUGH HIS INTEMPERANCE, WE MIGHT REGAIN IT THROUGH ABSTINENCE. And, as Adam stretched forth his hand at the sixth hour to touch the fruit, so the New Adam, Christ, at the sixth hour STRETCHED OUT HIS HANS ON THE CROSS, ANNULLING THE SENTENCE OF PERDITION BROUGHT ABOUT BY THE FORMER ADAM.
Therefore, ON THE EVE OF THE GREAT FAST, has brought to mind the fall of the PROTOPLASTES and enormous evil ushered in by it, we ought to eagerly KEEP THE FAST. By means of it, together WITH TEARS AND HUMILITY, LET U DEPART FROM SELF-LOVE. LET US SEEK RIGHT FAITH AND A LOVE THAT "SEEKETH NOT ITS OWN" (1 Corinthians 13:5). For even The Christ pleased not Himself (Romans 15:3), AND HE DIED FOR ALL IN ORDER THAT THEY WHO ARE LIVING NO LONGER ARE LIVING TO THEMSELVES, BUT TO HIM WHO DIED FOR THEM AND WAS RAISED (2 Corinthians 5:15). Let us struggle on this path that we may attain TO DIVINIZATION–if God by His grace visits us with PURIFICATION and ILLUMINATION OF THE HEART, AND EVEN THEOSIS (DEIFICATION) and GLORIFICATION, PERFECTING US IN THE VISION OF THE UNCREATED GLORY. Saint Mark the Ascetic writes: "Everyone baptized in the Orthodox manner HAS RECEIVED MYSTICALLY THE FULLNESS OF GRACE, BUT HE BECOMES CONSCIOUS OF THIS GRACE ONLY TO THE EXTENT THAT HE ACTIVELY OBSERVES THE COMMANDMENTS." So let us keep the Great Fast with the utmost care since it also honors the Holy Passion of Christ. Furthermore, THEE FORTY DAYS ARE A KIND OF TITHE OF THE ENTIRE YEAR. We now have the occasion, by means of this fast WITH A CONTRITE HEART AND HUMILITY, TO UPROOT FROM THIS HARVEST-TIME OF OUR SOULS WHATEVER UNSEEMLY DEEDS WE COMMITTED DURING THE YEAR.
In Thine ineffable compassion, O Christ our God,
vouchsafe us the delights of Paradise, and have mercy on us,
as Thou alone lovest mankind. Amen.
Saint Mark the Ascetic states, "He who seeks forgiveness of his sins loves humility, but if he condemns another he seals his own wickedness." So, "when you first become involved in something evil, do not say, ‘It will not overpower me.’ For to the extent that you are involved, you have already been overpowered by it.’ Again, "If you do not want to suffer evil, do not inflict it, since the suffering of it inevitably follows its infliction. ‘For whatever a man soweth, that also shall he reap’ (Galatians 6:7).
"It is A GREAT VIRTUE TO ACCEPT PATIENTLY WHATEVER COMES AND, AS THE LORD ENJOINS TO LOVE A NEIGHBOR WHO HATES YOU." Indeed, "It is better to pray devoutly for your neighbor than to rebuke him every time he sins." Now, "the sign OF SINCERE LOVE IS TO FORGIVE WRONGS DONE TO US. It was with such love that the Lord loved the world. Remember that we cannot with all our heart forgive someone who does us wrong unless we possess real knowledge. For this knowledge shows us that we deserve all we experience.
"When HARMED, INSULTED, OR PERSECUTED BY SOMEONE, do not think of the present but wait for the future, and you will find he has brought you much good, not only in this life but also in the life to come." So, "ACCEPT PRESENT AFFLICTIONS FOR THE SAKAE OF FUTURE BLESSINGS, THEN YOU WILL NEVER WEAKEN IN YOUR STRUGGLE. But again, pray that temptation may not come to you, but when it comes, accept it as your due and not undeserved." For "HE WHO SUFFERS WRONG AND DOES NOT DEMAND ANY REPARATION FROM THE MAN WHO WRONGED HIM, TRUSTS IN CHRIST TO MAKE GOOD THE LOSS, AND HE IS REWARDED HUNDREDFOLD IN THIS WORLD AND INHERITS ETERNAL LIFE. As for the sinner, ‘HE CANNOT ESCAPE RETRIBUTION EXCEPT THROUGH REPENTANCE APPROPRIATE TO HIS OFFENSE." (Source: The Great Synaxaristes of the Orthodox Church)
"Glory Be To GOD
– Saint John Chrysostomos
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With sincere agape in His Holy Diakonia (Ministry),
The sinner and unworthy servant of God
+ Father George