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+Hilarion Alfeyev: Lent is a time to look into oneself

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  • Nina Tkachuk Dimas
    Click to see photos:  http://www.mospat.ru/en/2012/02/29/news59236/ On February 29, 2012, the Wednesday of the first Lenten week, Metropolitan Hilarion of
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 3, 2012
      Click to see photos:  http://www.mospat.ru/en/2012/02/29/news59236/

      On February 29, 2012, the Wednesday of the first Lenten week, Metropolitan
      Hilarion of Volokolamsk, head of the Moscow Patriarchate’s department for
      external church relations, celebrated the Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified Gifts at
      the church of Our Lady the Joy of All the Afflicted in Moscow.
      After the service, His Eminence addressed the congregation with the following
      homily:

      ‘Today we have celebrated a special Lenten liturgy without the sacrament of
      the Eucharist, for it is the Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified Gift. During this
      liturgy we partake of the Holy Gifts which were already sanctified during the
      previous full liturgy, and all the prayers of this service are about the worship
      of the Lord Jesus Christ who is with us in his Holy Gifts. And these prayers
      also speak of the spiritual feat, the feat of purification of our souls in the
      Lenten days.

      We have embarked on the pursuits of the Holy Forty Weeks, and we hear at each
      service in these fasting days the words of St. Ephraim the Syrian in his prayer:
      ‘O Lord, grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother’. Why is it
      so important for us to see our own sins? It seems it would be much easier for us
      to live without noticing our sins or our shortcomings. Indeed, the awareness of
      them becomes for us a source of sorrow, anxiety, perplexity and dissatisfaction
      while the modern world and the entire modern culture make us feel perfectly
      satisfied with ourselves and wish that our desires may be fulfilled as far as
      possible.

      Then isn’t it easier for us to live without noticing our sins? A sin is an
      illness. There are those who prefer to ignore their illnesses, but we know only
      too well that if one does not have one’s diagnosis made correctly, it is
      impossible to choose the necessary treatment. If one does not come to a doctor
      then the diagnosis will not be made and a treatment will not be chosen. Similar
      laws exist in the spiritual life: spiritual illnesses must be treated. But if
      one assures oneself and those around him that he is not ill, he can find comfort
      in this idea only for a while until the illness takes roots deeply in his
      organism, until the symptoms declare themselves and begin to disturb his life.
      Only then he begins to think about sin.

      Man does not see his sins fully because the Lord spares him. As one of the
      holy fathers said, if we could see all our sins we would be terrified by their
      multitude and would give way to despair. It is for this reason that the Lord
      opens our eyes only to some of our sins and only partially at that. But if we
      continually turn to God with this prayer, if we make confession, then the Lord
      leads us on the way of self-awareness and helps us to eradicate our limitations
      one by one. Sometimes the Lord opens our eye to a certain aspect of our life, a
      particular shortcoming, which we did not notice before, helping us in this way
      to become purer.
      Undertaking the pursuits of Lent, we should think over our sins, not the sins
      of others, as is often the case with confessors who come to their priest to tell
      him about the shortcomings of their neighbours. Lent helps us to look into the
      depths of our own souls and to be terrified by the multitude of our sins without
      falling into despair in the awareness that where there is an illness there is a
      doctor and a treatment. Where there is sin there is the remedy of repentance and
      Holy Communion, which heals us from every spiritual infirmity and illness.

      The Lenten time is a time for repentance. The Lord gives us these days every
      year for us, first of all, to look into ourselves and turn to the Almighty with
      prayers for his help in our spiritual life, for us to see our sins and illnesses
      so that we may seek the doctor and healing, so that we may ask the Lord himself
      to be our doctor and healer of our souls and bodies. Amen’.
      DECR Communication Service

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