Forgiveness Sunday Vespers – Mar. 17

On Sunday evening, March 17, we will formally enter into Lent with “Forgiveness Vespers” at 6 PM.

Truly one of the most beautiful parts of our Orthodox Faith, we begin our Lenten journey by prostrating or bowing before each other, as we are able, and then, as we exchange the kiss of peace (kissing each other three times on the cheeks: right, left, right), the first person says “Forgive me, a sinner.”, to which the second person responds “God forgives and I forgive. Forgive me, a sinner.”, and then the first person concludes with “God forgives and I forgive.”

The important thing isn’t so much the formula, but to ask for forgiveness and then give it. If offered in sincerity this mutual exchange of forgiveness has the potential to remove the poison of sin and resentments from our spiritual blood stream as we enter into the Great Fast in order to prepare to celebrate the Passover of our Lord.

Some may say that they don’t feel that there is animosity between themselves and others in the parish, and feel no need to come, but the Church teaches us that sin is cosmic: when we sin, it not only hurts the one we sin against, but corrupts us, those around us, and ripples throughout the entire world. So, even if you have never spoken to your brother or sister in Christ, both of you will still derive much benefit from this Rite of Forgiveness. Moreso, this exchange truly helps to build up bonds of love among the members of our parish family, and can be a way to truly learn for all of us to care more deeply for each other.

We will go to Sarris’s for ice cream afterwards for one last treat before the fast. We may have to sit outside, so make sure to bring a coat!

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