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Thorns

Divine grace is God’s influence which operates in order to regenerate, to sanctify, to inspire Christian virtues, and also to strengthen the inner man to overcome temptations and to endure the trials of daily life.

The Lenten Rite of Forgiveness

Reproduced with permission

Today’s epistle tells us that “love is the fulfillment of the law.” Metropolitan Anthony of London wrote, “To say to another person ‘I love you’ means that I am drawing you into myself as the center of my life. But to do that, I must move aside. I must decrease as you increase.” In other words, the content of genuine love is a process of dying to oneself, a denial of self for the sake of the other, a decrease of the ego - the “I,” the self-will.

Love, by definition, is a process of suffering and dying for the sake of another. But the miraculous power of love transforms that suffering and dying to joy and liberation. As love dies, it lives. As it denies itself, it liberates and makes free. And in that process, the beloved one is also liberated for he/she is unconditionally affirmed and accepted and can be his/her true self. Such is the love that God is as a Trinity of Persons: each Person finds His glory, fulfillment and freedom in the Other.

Thus, the Lenten Rite of Forgiveness goes far beyond simply asking for forgiveness for some offense. The Rite is about holy friendship and community building. It is about the conscious effort of a parish community to enable the image of God to shine more brightly in its life – for God, after all, is a community of Persons, a union and unity of perfect love. It is the acknowledgement that this process is gradual and difficult. But the Rite of Forgiveness also shows us what is essential in church life: the love we are to have for one another as members of the one Body of Christ and of His Holy Spirit.

May this Lent see us drawing closer to each other in the divine mystery of holy friendship – that friendship which is a ray of eternity and a destruction of death, and that holy love which heals, renews, resurrects and liberates all and everything. See you this afternoon at the joyful, God-inspired Vespers of Forgiveness. - FMK

V. Rev. Michael Koblosh
All Saints of America Mission
Alexandria, Virginia

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