February 27, 2012
Holy and Great Lent
To the Most Reverend Hierarchs, the Reverend Priests and Deacons, the Monks and Nuns, the Presidents and Members of the Parish Councils of the Greek Orthodox Communities, the Distinguished Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, the Day, Afternoon, and Church Schools, the Philoptochos Sisterhoods, the Youth, the Hellenic Organizations, and the entire Greek Orthodox Family in America
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As we begin this season of Holy and Great Lent, we do so in anticipation of the blessings we will receive as we commune with Christ through the special services, observances, and disciplines of our Orthodox Christian faith. We embark on a journey of faith, with the destination of the joy of Pascha before us, knowing that abundant spiritual treasure awaits if we are committed to intensifying prayer and fasting and service to others in charity.
We have begun to prepare our hearts for the impact of Great Lent during the Triodion period and our reflection on repentance and forgiveness. Our resolve to follow the services and disciplines is strong, but we also realize that we face many challenges in navigating the course of the season and realizing the great potential that it has to offer in our relationship with God.
In the days ahead, we will have responsibilities and commitments to fulfill. We may have a family that will need our care and provision. Each day we will have tasks to accomplish, work to do, and obligations to meet. In addition, we know that new challenges will arise and pressures will appear that will make the journey difficult. Our resolve to strengthen our faith through Great Lent will be tested. Many things will compete for the attention of our hearts and minds, challenging us to be faithful to our commitment to deeper communion with God.
In the midst of daily life and during this sacred and solemn season, we must remind ourselves through prayer and reflection that we do not make this journey alone. The services we attend are beautiful and holy times of worship in the presence of Christ and in the company of our brothers and sisters. The disciplines of fasting and giving are disciplines of grace that connect us to the love of God and allow that love to transform us and be offered through us to others. Thus, our resolve and commitment in Great Lent should be strengthened by knowing that His presence and His grace are always with us. We make this journey in Christ. He is the source of the spiritual power we need to remain focused on the meaning of this season. He is also our destination.
As we begin this journey together, I encourage you to keep your eyes looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2). Each new day reaffirm your resolve to participate in the services and disciplines of Great Lent as you live in the presence of Christ and experience His love for you. May we also remember that making this journey with Him, through the examination of the soul, through self-denial and obedience to the will of God, and through the suffering and pain of His Crucifixion, we will be with our Lord in the glorious light and life of His Resurrection.
With paternal love in Christ,
Archbishop of America