Sunday, February 22, 2015

Forgiveness Sunday

Today is Forgiveness Sunday in the Orthodox tradition. After Vespers they have the Rite of Forgiveness, during which

... the priest stands beside the analogion, or before the ambon, and the faithful come up one by one and venerate the icon, after which each makes a prostration before the priest, saying, "Forgive me, a sinner." The priest also makes a prostration before each, saying, "God forgives. Forgive me." The person responds, "God forgives," and receives a blessing from the priest. Meanwhile the choir sings quietly the irmoi of the Paschal Canon, or else the Paschal Stichera. After receiving the priest's blessing, the faithful also ask forgiveness of each other.

In that spirit, I ask God's forgiveness for my many faults and failings; and I also beg pardon of those I have sinned against and ask God to help me forgive those who have sinned against me. Father, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. 

Why do we usurp God's right to judge? ... It is for God alone to judge, to justify, or condemn. He knows the state of each one of us and our capacities, our deviations, and our gifts, our constitution, and our preparedness ... according to the knowledge that he alone has ... And how do you know what tears he has shed about it before God? You may well know about the sin, but you do not know about the repentance.'
St Dorotheos of Gaza, 'Discourse on Refusal to judge our neighbour,' part of the readings an reflections for Forgiveness Sunday  from The Bible & the Holy Fathers for Orthodox

"In this time of fasting and prayer, brethren, let us with all our hearts forgive anything real or imaginary we have against anyone. May we all devote ourselves to love, and let us consider one another as an incentive to love and good works, speaking in defense of one another, having good thoughts and dispositions within us before God and men. In this way our fasting will be laudable and blameless, and our requests to God while we fast will be readily received."
-St. Gregory Palamas, excerpt from Homily Seven: "On Fasting"

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