Vespers of Forgiveness

In Byzantine churches people will ask each others’ pardon during the Rite of Forgiveness at the conclusion of this evening’s vesper service. Some will forgive joyously, some formally, some reluctantly, and some will refuse to forgive or to ask for forgiveness. The necessity of forgiveness is emphasized not only in Holy Scripture but also in the psychological sciences. It is commonly said that a wise person is the one who forgives.

Forgiveness 3Great Lent (Fast) begins tomorrow. Let us start our efforts with proper preparation by asking forgiveness of those who we may have offended and offering our unconditional forgiveness to all persons.

The words of Saint Philotheos of Sinai are instructional in the matter of forgiveness:

“Do we forgive our neighbors their trespasses? God also forgives us in His mercy. Do we refuse to forgive? God, too, will refuse to forgive us. As we treat our neighbors, so also does God treat us. The forgiveness or non-forgiveness, then, of your sins—and hence also your salvation or destruction—depend on you yourself. For without forgiveness of sins there is no salvation.”

My Sisters and Brothers, please forgive me a sinner and pray for me! May the Lord forgive us and grant us the grace to celebrate His glorious Resurrection!

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