Sunday of Cheesefare

I arrive at the final day before the Great Fast and on the threshold
of my personal journey to Pascha I see the expulsion of Adam
and Eve from paradise. They serve as the reminder for me of what
I have lost by my own sinful behavior. But at the same time,
sitting and weeping outside the gates of paradise, I know that by
taking this journey of the Great Fast in faith, I can arrive again
in the paradise of Pascha.

This Sunday I sing forgiveness vespers. I begin my own journey
to Pascha by forgiving those who have hurt me. Just as our Lord
taught in the Our Father and the parable of the debtor I must
forgive to be forgiven. On the cusp of my journey I make the
first step, forgiveness of others.

I am prepared for the road ahead by the desire of Zacchaeus,
the humility of the Publican, the return from exile of the
Prodigal Son, an acknowledgement to serve others from the
judgement and a spiritual kinship with Adam and Eve expelled
from paradise.

Sunday’s vespers conclude with the kissing of the cross while
singing the Paschal Hymns from Resurrection Matins. Here at the
start of my journey I taste the destination. I see where I am
going and draw the strength to begin the journey.

Last week on meat fare Sunday I started to ease into the fast by
dropping meat from my diet. This Sunday I remove cheese as
well. Now I begin the fast in earnest. I use fasting as a spiritual
tool to remind us of my hunger for God in prayer. I use
the hunger pangs as a call to prayer. The Jesus prayer is a
good tool for these moments: “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God,
have mercy, on me a sinner.”

As the journey to Pascha continues the services of the Church
will provide many more themes and thoughts to guide me to the
ultimate destination.

Taken from bulletin insert prepared by Steve Puluka, based upon the book  by Father Alexander Schmemann, Great Lent: Journey to Pascha.

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