“And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

On the evening of Sunday the 14th of May, the faithful of Victoria gathered to pray for the beginning of Great and Holy Lent at the Vespers of Forgiveness Sunday.

ACOY Victoria hosted the Forgiveness Sunday Vespers at St Paul Antiochian Orthodox Church in Dandenong. Many attended from all our Victorian parishes, with the blessings and prayers of Fr. Jean Mawal, Fr. Jack Lutfi, and Dcn. Nicholas Fraser. After the vespers, everyone gathered in the hall, where fellowship and supper were had.

After having asked for forgiveness at the conclusion of the Vespers, Johnny Rabahi spoke a word on how important it is to ask for forgiveness, but to do so by also remembering to forgive others who may have done wrong against us; for our fast will have no meaning if we ourselves do not also forgive others, who are also on the same journey to salvation.

There is no more blessed way to begin the fast of Great Lent, in anticipation of the Resurrection, than to do so together in faith, peace, and love. We also read the prayer of St Ephrem during the vespers for the first time this year, and prayed, above all, for forgiveness from God. That He may grant us chastity, humility, patience, and love.

O Lord and Master of my life!
Take from me the spirit of sloth, despondency, lust of power, and idle talk.

But give rather the spirit of chastity,
humility, patience, and love to Thy servant.

Yea, Lord, and King! Grant me to see my own errors and not to judge my brother,
for Thou art blessed unto ages of ages. Amen.

– Prayer of St Ephraim

Although we have entered a time of deep reflection and repentance, with the Holy Passion ahead of us, we must also not forget to look to the glorious Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, who is the reason for our fasting and is our Shepherd always now and forever.

“Let no one mourn that he has fallen again and again; for forgiveness has risen from the grave.” 
– St John Chrysostom