In accordance with our Typikon, the brotherhood of Holy Trinity Monastery performs the Rite of Forgiveness on the night of Cheesefare Sunday, at the end of the Order of Small Compline. Prior to asking the forgiveness of the brotherhood and of all present, the monastery’s abbot, Archimandrite Luke, gave the following word on the upcoming lenten struggle:
In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit!
Dear brothers and sisters,
We begin the Great Fast with the command of our Saviour to forgive one another in order to receive from our Lord complete forgiveness of our sins. But this is only the beginning; this is somewhat of a foundation. Our sins are numerous — sins not only against our neighbor but against our own soul, which is our closest neighbor, and especially we sin against the Lord God and offend Him every day. We deceive ourselves. We need to remember the goal of all of this. And the goal is to become citizens of the Heavenly Kingdom and not to fall into Hell. This is the goal of our struggles.
And what further do we need to think about? Some of us reach the end of the lenten period and think, “There we go. I’ve managed to attend every single church service. I’ve not missed one.” That is some kind of an achievement. Or, “We’ve managed to reach Pascha and not one time did we break the fast.” Again, another achievement of sorts. Or even better, “I was able to not say one offensive word during the entire lenten period to my neighbor.” That’s still a great achievement. But we have to remember, brothers and sisters, the pharisees and the scribes were very good at keeping the rules. But that was not enough.
What is it that we need to seek from our Lord? We have to seek revelation, revelation that we could even call Divine lessons. What are these lessons? A person struggles very hard for a long time against a sin, for example, with no success whatsoever. Then one day, suddenly, for some reason he understands that he’s been struggling too much with his own powers, that he’s forgotten that we need to turn completely in heart and soul and mind to Christ! And when he does this, after this small revelation he begins to struggle a little more successfully. We should remember these revelations, we should write them down. We need to seek them from God and ask Him to open our eyes. They are like strong stones which go into the building of the tower which is our soul, the tower which is our spiritual life. Or else we will remain in one spot, like little children without real development, in a childish state of soul and not like adults as we should be.
How can these small revelations all lead to something even greater, even higher? Well, they will if we pay attention to what the Lord reveals to us about ourselves. They will lead us to the great, the very great and divine virtue of humility — which unfortunately we greatly lack. Concerning humility I am silent. We have the Holy God-bearing Fathers; they can teach you. You need to read them to discover what are the signs of humility, how to acquire them. We can begin by begging the Lord to open our eyes, to stop deceiving ourselves and to begin a real life in Christ, not like children but like true Orthodox Christians.
The above text was transcribed from audio and lightly edited for readability and to fit our editorial style.