His Eminence, Metropolitan JOSEPH's
Pastoral Message for the Great Fast 2016
“Thy grace hath risen, O Lord and the illumination of our souls hath shown forth. Lo, now is the acceptable time; the season of repentance hath come. Let us cast down the works of darkness, and put on the works of light, that we may pass the great tempest of fasting and reach the summit of the third day Resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, the Savior of our souls.” (from the Aposticha of the Vesper Service for the Evening of Cheese Fare)
We greet you with anticipation as we embark on the Holy Season of the Great Fast in preparation for the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.
The beautiful verse above embodies the true spirit of the Lenten Season as we begin our journey to draw nearer to God so that we may worthily rejoice in His Resurrection. We are called to “cast down the works of darkness, and put on the works of light”. We are all aware that the world in which we live presents us many opportunities to participate in darkness, that is, all pursuits which draw us away from God and are displeasing to Him. These are the works of Satan and his followers who despise the light, for the light shines brightly and reveals them as pure evil. But our Lord Jesus Christ is the True Light, and He has declared that we are “the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14).
Why does the verse above refer to this season as the “great tempest of fasting”? A tempest is defined to be a violent and windy storm, and that is what we expect to experience if we truly follow a path of sincere repentance during this season. If we are sincere in this journey we will find ourselves tested in sometimes severe ways, since Satan will not let go of us without a serious battle. If we do not feel weary during this journey, then we are not trying hard enough. But this not a weariness of despair, but a weariness of hope, for we know that at the end of this journey, we will bask in the glory of the Light of the Empty Tomb.
We convey our most heartfelt love to you as we stand on the threshold of this most solemn season and we ask our loving God to bless you and grant to you a most spiritually rewarding journey of repentance.
Your Father in Christ,
+ J O S E P H
Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America