14 February 2010
To the Right Reverend, Very Reverend and Reverend Clergy, the Christ-loving Monastics, and the Faithful Laity of the Diocese of Wichita and Mid-America:
Blessings and greetings in the Name of the Lord Christ. As we stand at the thresh-hold of the Great Fast, I make my prostration before you and ask your forgiveness. As this year’s Forgiveness Sunday Message to our Diocese, I share with you the following counsel of our Venerable and God-bearing Father Theodore the Studite (759-826).
“Brethren and Fathers, our good God who gives us life and brings us from year to year, has brought us also with love for mankind to this present time of fasting, in which each of the eager, as their choice directs, enters the contest ... let us welcome gladly the gift of the Fast, not making ourselves miserable, but, as we are taught, let us advance with cheerfulness of heart, innocent, not slandering, not angry, not evil, not envying; rather peaceable towards each other, and loving, fair, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits; breathing in seasonable stillness, yet speaking suitable words, since unreasonable stillness is profitless; yet above all unsleepingly keeping watch over our thoughts, not opening the door to the passions, not giving place to the devil. If the spirit of the powerful one, it says, rise up against you, do not let it find your place. So that the enemy has power to suggest, but in no way to enter. We are lords of ourselves; let us not open our door to the devil; rather let us keep guard over our soul as a bride of Christ, not set about with tumult, unwounded by the arrows of the thoughts; for thus we are able to become a dwelling of God in Spirit. Thus we may be made worthy to hear, Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. Quite simply, Whatever is true, whatever noble, whatever just, whatever pure, whatever lovely, whatever of good report, if there is anything virtuous, if there is anything praiseworthy, to speak like the Apostle, do it; and the God of peace will be with you all, in Christ Jesus, our Lord, to whom be the glory and power, with the Father and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and unto ages of ages. Amen.”
By the intercessions of St. Theodore and all the Saints, may we be granted a soul-profiting Forty-Days. Have a good Fast.
Bishop of Wichita & the Diocese of Mid-America