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Pastoral Message for the Great Fast 2015

His Eminence Metropolitan Joseph writes:

O Lord and Master of my life, take from me the spirit of sloth, faintheartedness, lust of power and idle talk. But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience and love to Thy servant. Yea O Lord and King, grant me to see my own sins and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou unto ages of ages, Amen.
(Prayer of St. Ephraim The Syrian)

We greet you with anticipation as we draw near to the beginning of the Great Fast in preparation for the Glorious Resurrection of our Lord and God and Savior Jesus Christ.

The beautiful prayer above embodies the true spirit of the Lenten Season as we struggle to draw nearer to God. The message of repentance is a powerful one which can transform every life from one of confusion and sadness to a life of peace and joy in Christ. The message of repentance calls us to put aside all of those things in this earthly life which drive us away from God, and to concentrate on strengthening our relationship with God, and allowing His Holy Spirit to fill a heart which had been previously consumed by passions. Of course it is important that we abstain from certain food and drink as prescribed by the Church's fasting discipline, but it is equally important that we abstain from sinful thoughts, words, and deeds. In addition, the true spirit of the Fast will include almsgiving and performing acts of mercy for those who are in need.

The Church, in Her wisdom, gives us the additional tools and support that we need during this season: Special worship services, specific Gospel messages, and the opportunity to receive the Body and Blood of our Lord more frequently than in other seasons, to mention a few. I urge every person in this God-protected Archdiocese to take full advantage of these opportunities to be spiritually strengthened and renewed. We should be mindful also that our repentance is not intended to occur only for this season, but rather that this season should be the beginning of a new life which will continue for all of our days on this earth.

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.

Yours in Christ,

+JOSEPH
Archbishop of New York and Metropolitan of All North America
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archidiocese of North America

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Metropolitan Joseph's Great Lent Greeting Letter 2015 (PDF)111.67 KB