I must confess it is really hard for me to come up with any pearls of wisdom for families during this first week. There is so much good material out there about observing Lent in family life that people should check out. My own Cathedral, Holy Trinity in Chicago, is posting daily reflections and articles on observing Great Lent. Please click on this link to earn more: https://mailchi.mp/859d0c49050c/the-40-day-journey-begins?e=dd92410fe7
If there is one thought I would like to offer, it is that we don’t observe fasting rules, go to church services, and pray just to show people what kind of good Orthodox Christians we are. Heed our Savior’s call and keep those practices secret from people. If there is anything we don’t fast from, it is love for those persons the Lord brings to our life each day. The goal of fasting and prayer is to drive self-centeredness and self-will from our lives. It is to teach us that there is so much in life we want but don’t really need. It is to lead us to reconciliation with the Lord and with one another. Take the time as a family to read and discuss the 1st Epistle of John sometime during the Great Fast. This letter is so important in teaching us that our professed love for God is tied to how we treat one another.
The gospel reading on Forgiveness Sunday begins with our Lord saying, “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” These words immediately follow the “Our Father…” the Lord gives to his disciples when they ask Him to teach them how to pray. Out of that entire prayer, His words on forgiveness are the only commentary he offers.
If we can’t experience reconciliation and forgiveness in our churches or in our families as icons of little churches, then we are not being the Church. In Matthew 5 our Lord says, “You are the salt of the earth; but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trodden under foot by men.” Let this not be our experience during Lent. Let us restore the saving preservative of salt in our lives by repenting from those things that have caused us to lose this taste of salt. Let us instead “bear one another’s burdens and fulfill the law of Christ.”
Please forgive me a sinner and pray for me.
With love in Christ,
The unworthy +Paul