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Third Sunday of Great Lent. Adoration of the Holy Cross.


Thoughts for Each Day of the Year According to the Daily Church Readings from the Word of God By St. Theophan the Recluse (Third Sunday of Lent. [Heb. 4:14–5:6; Mark 8:34–9:1])

Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me (Mark 8:34). It is impossible to follow the Lord as a cross bearer without a cross, and everyone who follows Him, unfailingly goes with a cross. What is this cross? It is all sorts of inconveniences, burdens and sorrows—weighing heavily both internally and externally—along the path of conscientious fulfilment of the commandments of the Lord, in a life according to the spirit of His instructions and demands. Such a cross is so much a part of a Christian that wherever there is a Christian, there is this cross, and where there is no such cross, there is no Christian. Abundant privileges and a life of pleasure do not suit a true Christian. His task is to cleanse and reform himself. He is like a sick person, who needs cauterization, or amputation; how can this be without pain? He wants to tear himself away from the captivity of a strong enemy; but how can this be without struggle and wounds? He must walk counter to all practices surrounding him; but how can he sustain this without inconvenience and constraint? Rejoice as you feel the cross upon yourself, for it is a sign that you are following the Lord on the path of salvation which leads to heaven. Endure a bit. The end is just around the corner, as well as the crowns!


In the Name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

After these weeks of preparation during which we have examined our soul, our lives, all our relationship before the eyes and the judgement of God, we enter today into the joy of Lent; the joy of Lent. The word ‘lent’ means the spring; it is a beginning, and a beginning of life, a beginning of newness, a new time. It is a time when we will no longer be reminded of our own sins, no longer be confronted with images in parables of fall and repentance, but faced with the names of Saints who have started their lives as we start them: the frail, weak, vacillating, but who by the grace of God, by the power of God have become what they are: men, women, children whom we can venerate, in whom we can rejoice, who can be set as examples to us, to whom we can turn for their prayers unto salvation.

Tonight we will start on this journey; on the journey that leads us from our sinful condition, recognised, repentant unto a new time, unto the Resurrection of Christ which is the beginning for us of our own eternal life. We will start on this journey to-night as the people of Israel started from the land of Egypt for the Promised Land: still frail, still burdened, still incompletely free. But it is not by looking back at ourselves, but by looking towards the Living God Who is Life and salvation, and to the example of those who have been victorious by the power of God that we will find courage,
inspiration to come to the final victory, to the newness of life which is our calling and God’s promise. We will have to journey together, and we must not be in any delusion: we will be difficult for one another as companions on the journey; but we will depend on one another if we want to achieve to come to an end, — in the same way in which the Israelites were in the desert: not always obedient to God, not always loyal to one another, and yet, needing each other in order to reach the promised goal.

So, let us start now; let us think of the feast which we keep next Sunday: Triumph of Orthodoxy. It is not the triumph of the Orthodox over anyone else; it is the triumph of God over people. The triumph of His truth, the triumph of God in the lives of people.

And than, let us look at one saint after the other, and listen to what he has got to say to us: Gregory PalamasJohn of the LadderMary of Egypt and all those who have followed in the footsteps of Christ. And we will then reach the point at which we must forget everyone and everything, and remember nothing, no one but the Lord Jesus Christ: what He is, what He has done for us, what He is doing for us. Let us learn to forget ourselves in the course of those weeks, joyfully, gratefully, that we can now turn away from ourselves and look only Godwards. And when the time of Passion week comes, again, in a new way, with a new determination, with a new renunciation to ourselves, turn and look at God Who has become man that we may be saved, and be grateful, forget ourselves, remember only Him and He will remember us unto salvation. Amen.

Metropolitan Anthony of Sourozh




As we continue preparing for our Lenten journey this year, the Church directs our attention to the Parable of the Prodigal Son. This story presents profound truths both about God and about us as His beloved children who have become so enslaved to corrupt desires that we make ourselves and others miserable, becoming at times virtually unrecognizable as those who bear the divine image and likeness. Fortunately, the parable reminds us that we can wake up from our delusions and return to our Father Who wants nothing more than for His sons and daughters to accept their true relationship with Him.

As we prepare to follow our Lord to His Cross and empty tomb, we have the opportunity to come to ourselves and return to right relationship with our Heavenly Father. We must not refuse to do so out of fear that He will reject us. Like the father in the parable, God is not a vengeful tyrant or a strict dispenser of justice. “God is love” (1 Jn. 4:8) and constantly reaches out to us, calling us to accept restoration as His sons and daughters. All He asks is that we repent by reorienting our lives toward fulfillment in His Kingdom. “A contrite and humble heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.” Truly humble repentance is never merely a matter of how we feel, but of offering ourselves as whole persons—body, soul, and spirit—to share more fully in the life of Christ.

In today’s epistle reading, Saint Paul addressed a grave problem among the Gentile Christians of Corinth. Some of them followed the sensibilities of pagan culture in thinking that how they lived in their bodies with reference to sex was spiritually irrelevant. He reminded them that the body is holy in light of Christ’s resurrection. They are members of His Body and living temples of the Holy Spirit, and must live accordingly. Whether in Corinth or today, the intimate union of husband and wife as “one flesh” is the only form of sexual relationship and marital union blessed by the Lord as a sign of His Kingdom and of the relationship between Christ and the Church. This is not a matter of engaging in culture wars, but of recognizing the truth about how to find healing for our souls as we struggle to live faithfully as the men and women God created us to be. Even as the father restored the prodigal son after wasting his inheritance on prostitutes, God’s healing mercy extends to sexual sins of whatever form and enables a purity of heart that permeates every dimension of our lives as we gain the spiritual strength to live in accordance with His gracious purposes for our salvation. We must not let shame, which is simply hurt pride, about sexual or any other type of sin keep us from taking the journey back to our Father.

Let us use the spiritual disciplines of Lent to come to ourselves as we gain a clearer recognition of the ways in which we have refused to live as the beloved sons and daughters of our Lord. If we humbly reorient our lives toward Him and away from slavery to our passions, we will find restoration, blessing, and joy. We must use the coming season to leave behind the filth and misery of the pig pen and to enter by grace into the joy of a heavenly banquet that we definitely do not deserve.

Fr. Philip LeMasters



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