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Pastoral Message for the Great Fast 2017

His Eminence, Metropolitan JOSEPH's
Pastoral Message for the Great Fast 2017

"The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever." Isaiah 40:8


Beloved Clergy and Faithful of this God-protected Archdiocese:

The season of the Great Fast is upon us in preparation of the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord and God and Savior, Jesus Christ! Now is the time when the Orthodox Church invites her children to live His passion and sacrifice on the Cross to conquer sin and death, and take up abode in His Father's mansions (John 14:2). The Church calls us during this season to a clearheaded reexamination of our lives and relationship with Christ; her Bridegroom. Now is the time to ask: have I been walking with Christ? Will I crucify the "old me" during this time and rise as the "new me" with a pure heart, mind, soul and body with the risen Christ, worthy to inherit the His eternal kingdom? During this time, the soul is renewed every day and made beautiful with fasting, prayer and repentance. These days are also a sanctuary in which we all gather more frequently for worship in our churches and find spiritual stillness. One of the famed "doctors" of the Church explains this period for us:

"Dedicated to the purification of the soul, let us be careful to fulfill the Apostolic command that we cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and of the spirit (II Cor. 7:11), so that ...the soul, which in the Providence of God is meant to be the ruler of the body, may regain the dignity of its rightful authority.... With just contempt shall we be tormented by those who have no faith, and from our wickedness evil tongues will draw weapons to wound religion, if the way of life of those who fast be not in accord with what is needed in true self-denial. For the sum total of our fasting does not consist in merely abstaining from food. In vain do we deny our body food if we do not withhold our heart from iniquity, and restrain our lips that they speak no evil." – Saint Leo the Great, Lent the Season of Purification

I pray this Great Lent will be for all of us a time of mercy given and received. I hope that we will focus our minds and our entire lives on Christ this Lent, both as a Church and as individuals, for He is the way, the truth, the Resurrection and the life.

Wishing you all of God's blessings, I remain,

Your Father In Christ,

+JOSEPH
Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of all North America

 

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