The Holy Trinity Orthodox Church today (March 13, 2016) inaugurated the beginning of the Lenten season by celebrating Forgiveness Vespers with the Rite of Forgiveness. In the Orthodox Church, the last Sunday before Great Lent, Lent is liturgically announced during Forgiveness Vespers. On the morning of this Sunday, at the Divine Liturgy, we hear the words of Christ, that if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will forgive you also ... but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will our Father forgive you (Matt 6:14-21).
During the celebration of Forgiveness Vespers, after hearing the announcement of Lent in the Great Prokeimenon: “Turn not away Thy face from Thy child, for I am afflicted! Hear me speedily! Draw near unto my soul and deliver it!”, after making our entrance into Lenten worship, with its special melodies, with the prayer of St Ephraim the Syrian, with its prostrations—we asked forgiveness from each other, we performed the rite of forgiveness and were reconciled with one another.
As each person ask one another for forgiveness, and each person gave the acceptable Christian response, "God forgives."
For additional information on the Lenten cycle please see: The Sundays of Great Lent