Please Remember in Your Prayers

Archpriest Vincent Saverino; Archpriest Michael Hatrak; Deacon Michael Bishop; Mat. Myra Kovalak; Mat. Klavdiya Burbelo; Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green; Nun Elizabeth; Nun Magdalena; Mat. Natalia Kosich; Mat. Diane Winsky; Mat. Catherine Kowalchik; Marie Vass; Charles Snipes; Arthur-Stephen Lisowsky; Yelena Radchenko; Lydia Zorina; Tatiana; Katherine Plaskowitz; Philip Plaskowitz, Michael Stanka; Bernadine Borawick; Julia Aymold; Mary Johnson; Lilli Ann Hoffman; Lara Marinich; Oleg Marinich; Ioann and Galina Zernetkin; Monika-Anastasia & Stephanie Handley; Blanche-Julia Stolkovich; Ekaterina Koroleva; Nina Lewis; Maryann Black; Lyudmila, Anton & Aleksander Karnup; John Alexander Bylen; Katherine Garrett; Stephen Kaminitsky; Constantine; John-Thomas Planinshek; Kenneth Pukita; William and Ann Ferkile; Sergei Krektyshev; Irina Kononova; Petr and Lyudmila Borodkin; Anthony Bakie; Svetlana & Aleksey; Nina; Mat. Galina, Alla; Anna; Alla; Raisa, Zinaida; Joseph Germano; Pavel, Vladimir, Valentina, Nina, and Maria; Maria Pappas; Bonnie Duke; Joseph Lacomy; Diana Radchenko; Aleksey Potapov; Oleg and Andrei; Vitaliy, Tatiana, Olena & Nicholas Berchuk; Marian, Irena and Isabella; David, Selina-Sophia, John, Maryann, David, Joseph, Lisa Ann Eichelberger; Cynthia and Bill (Basil) Popomaronis; Katerina Spilio; Ekaterina Kuzmina.

 

ru

Bulletin

Cheese Fare Sunday 

Expulsion of Adam from Paradise

Forgiveness Sunday

Tone 4

February 5/18, 2018

 

Leave-taking of the Meeting of the Lord in the Temple. Martyr Agatha of Palermo in Sicily (251); Holy Hierarch Theodosius, Archbishop of Chernigov (1696); Martyr Theodoula of Anazarbus in Cilicia, and with her Martyrs Helladius, Macarius, Boethos, and Evagrius (304); Venerable-martyr Alexandra, Martyr Michael (1942). "Eletsk-Chernigov" (1060), "Sicilian" or "Divnogorsk" (1092) and "In Search of the Perishing" (17th c.) Icons of the Mother of God.

 

 

 

 

Last  day  for  eating  dairy  and  eggs

Great  Lent  begins  Tomorrow – February 19th

 

Today’s Scriptural Readings:      

Romans 13:11 - 14:4 /   Matthew 6: 14-21  

Fr. John’s Sermons (Video): Click here  

 

This  Week’s  Liturgical  Calendar

Sunday February 18th – 6:00 PM

Vespers in Church

Rite of Forgiveness

Monday thru Thursday – 7:00 PM

February 19 - 22

Great Compline in Church 

Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete

Saturday, February 24th – 10:00 AM

Divine Liturgy in Church

Blessing of Koliva

Saturday, February 24th – 6:00 PM 

Vigil Service in Church

Sunday, February 25th – 10:00 AM 

Confessions at 9:15 – 10:00 AM

Divine Liturgy in Church 

Orthodoxy Sunday - Icon Procession

 

Saints Peter & Paul Chapel

Holy Trinity Orthodox Cemetery at Cathedral Gardens

6480 Elibank Drive, Elkridge, MD. 21075

 

Русский перевод бюллетеня – смотрите ниже...

 

 

Divine Services at Holy Trinity are now live-streamed at

https://www.youtube.com/user/HolyTrinitySermons

 

 

Please join us for the Blini Luncheon after Divine Liturgy

 

Today – Blini Luncheon / Cheesefare Sunday – February 18 

Today is Cheesefare Sunday – the last day for dairy products before the start of the Great Fast. So after Divine Services we will conduct a Blini Luncheon. Freshly made blini will be served with a variety of toppings of your choice, salads and other desserts. 

 

Lenten Discussion Group – Begins February 21

During Great Lent after Liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts each Wednesday evening, join us for a discussion on the book The Spiritual Life – And How to Be Attuned to It, by St. Theophan the Recluse. In this book, rightly called a primer for spiritual life, St. Theophan with fatherly care leads the reader with a gentle yet firm approach on the narrow way to which we are called, but also explains life and all that it can bring in a light that stresses hope, forgiveness and mercy. The book is on sale in our book store. For our first discussion read Intro through Letter 9.

 

Congratulations Bible Bowl Teams!!!

Our parish hosted the 11th Annual Baltimore Orthodox Bible Bowl on Saturday, February 10. Orthodox youth in the Baltimore area gather for a friendly competition testing their knowledge of the New Testament. Participating parishes take their turn each year in hosting the event. At this year’s Bible Bowl, ten teams, representing four Orthodox parishes – Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church, Holy Cross Antiochian Orthodox Church, St. Andrew Orthodox Church and St. Mary Antiochian Orthodox Church – participated in the friendly competition. Teams from the middle school and high school levels answered many difficult questions taken from the Book of Acts. All ten teams impressively answered the questions, making their parents proud.  

 

For the first time, both the middle school and high school teams from Holy Trinity won first place! On the middle school level, the competition was especially tense. Only one point separated first and second place. The kids were genuinely excited, because they won the honor to bring the trophies to be housed at Holy Trinity for the year. At the awards ceremony, all participants received an icon of Sts. Peter and Paul, and teams finishing first, second and third place also received gift cards as prizes. At the conclusion of the event, everyone proceeded to the church for the Great Vespers service, led by Fr. John with clergy from the participating parishes.

 

We congratulate our Middle School Team: Julia Hidar, Margarita Akinina and Katherine Hansen; and our High School Team: Ana Maria Frujinoiu, Fyodor Merzliakov and Dmitriy Shustov for doing a terrific job representing our parish and our church Sunday School. We offer our sincere thanks to Dr. Pat Disharoon for composing and reading the questions and to Catalin Frujinoiu for his untiring efforts coaching this year’s victorious teams. He created so many helpful study guides. Also, we thank Natallia Makarava for coordinating the refreshments. And we are very grateful to all the parents who supported their kids’ participation and who coordinated all the logistics of the event. We couldn’t have conducted this yearly event without your help. May God bless you. Photos: http://holytrinityorthodox.com/albums/BibleBowl2018/index.htm 

 

 

Church School Camping Trip – May 18-20, 2018

The 18th Annual Church School Camping Trip at Camp Running Bear (formerly Camp Alkor) in Monkton, MD for children ages 6-12 will take place May 18-20. Our theme this year is “Old Testament Prophecies of the Messiah.” Registrations due by April 27th. Registration forms are on the bulletin table. For more information contact Dr. Pat Disharoon pdisharoon@aol.com  410-233-5337. Also, all adult chaperones MUST register with Dr. Pat by April 20th to expedite background checks.



Archpastoral Visit – Thank you!

On Sunday, February 11, the Administrator of the Patriarchal Parishes in the USA, His Grace Bishop John of Naro-Fominsk visited our parish to mark the 99th Anniversary of our Parish Founding. Upon his arrival Bishop John was greeted with flowers by Veronica Burbelo, Julia Hidar and Margarita Akinina all in beautiful Russian dresses. Then, our Parish Council President Victor Marinich welcomed His Grace with the traditional bread and salt. After vesting in the sanctuary, His Grace led the celebration of the Divine Liturgy, co-served by Archpriest John Vass, Priest Mark Rashkov (cleric of St. Nicholas Cathedral in New York City) and Deacon Michael Bishop. At the Little Entrance, for his many years of dedicated service to the Russian Orthodox Church, Fr. Michael was awarded the right to wear the double orarion.

 

At the conclusion of the Liturgy, Bishop John delivered a sermon on the Sunday's Gospel reading. In honor of his visit, His Grace presented our parish with an icon of the Holy Royal Passion-bearers as well as a book detailing their lives. Bishop John also presented the following members of the parish with Archpastoral Gramotas: Andrei Burbelo, Natalie Burbelo, Anna-Zumrat Shkurba, Larisa Hidar, Patricia-Marie Disharoon, Catalin-Vasily Frujinoiu, Anca-Magdalena Frujinoiu, Ekaterina Radchenko, and Daniel Walsh. Afterwards, Fr. John acquainted Bishop John with the ongoing restoration and frescoing of our historic church. He also presented His Grace with a photo album that included pictures of our past and present church life as well as “before-and-after” pictures of the icons that were restored. 

 

After Liturgy, we conducted a festive luncheon in honor of the Bishop’s visit. We offer our sincere thanks to everyone who made last Sunday a memorable day – to the choir under the direction of Brian-Seraphim Cardell; to Natalie Burbelo for coordinating the luncheon and to the very many volunteers who helped with cleaning the church, preparing the hall, cooking and serving during the luncheon and cleaning up afterwards. Indeed, many people helped in various ways. Thank you for your dedication to and love of our parish community. Bishop John was very happy to visit us and quite pleased to hear about how active and harmonious our parish is. May God bless you all.

 

 

History Committee – Saturday, February 24

On Saturday, February 24 at 3:00 PM, the History Committee will meet in the rectory

to continue its work. For more information, contact Natalie Burbelo 443-567-6031 nbsf49@verizon.net

 

Sisterhood Meeting – Sunday, February 25

On Sunday, February 25 after coffee hour, the Sisterhood will conduct its regular quarterly meeting.

For more information, contact Natallia Makarava 443-625-8470 n.makarava@gmail.com

 

Cemetery Committee – Sunday, February 25

On Sunday, February 25 after Liturgy, the Cemetery Committee will conduct a brief meeting.

For more information, contact Michael Mickel 410-666-2870 mcmickel@verizon.net

 

Vigil Candles: On the Altar and near St. Barbara

Feb. 18-24: Candles offered by Valentina Zernetkina for the health/salvation of the servants of God: Andrey and Dmitriy Shustov.

A $15 donation will keep all three candles lit for one week. Schedule your candle offering with Vadim Radchenko 410-465-6172.

 

Cleaning Group – Group #2 /  Join a Group – Help your brothers and sisters

Group #2 will clean this week Feb. 19-24: Natallia Makarava (captain), Mikhail Merzliakov,

Catalin Frujinoiu, Anca Frujinoiu and Gabriel Wagner This group needs more members.

 

Submit your 2018 Pledge

The mission of our parish is to spread the Word of God, to grow, to expand, to improve and not just to preserve our traditions.  Our parish shouldn’t become stale, but pursue holiness.

 

We strive to fulfill the mission of our parish, through prayer, work and sacrifice. Prayer – because we are called to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17); work – because we are taught to increase the talents given to us (Matt. 25: 14-30); and sacrifice – because "everyone to whom much is given, from him will much be required" (Luke 12:48).

 

Please be generous as the Lord is generous to you. When completing your pledge for the new year, please consider raising your level of giving. Our church cannot operate without your financial contributions. Our parish will grow only through your prayers, work and generous sacrifice.

 

When you are generous, you are not bestowing a gift, but repaying a debt. Everything you possess materially comes from God, who created all things. And every spiritual and moral virtue you possess is through divine grace. Thus, you owe everything to God. More than that, God has given you his Son, to show you how to live: how to use your material possessions, and how to grow in moral and spiritual virtue. St. John Chrysostom 

 

Please Remember in Your Prayers…

Archpriest Vincent Saverino; Archpriest Michael Hatrak; Deacon Michael Bishop; Mat. Myra Kovalak; Mat. Klavdiya Burbelo; Kh. Frederica Mathewes-Green; Nun Elizabeth; Nun Magdalena; Mat. Natalia Kosich; Mat. Diane Winsky; Mat. Catherine Kowalchik; Marie Vass; Charles Snipes; Arthur-Stephen Lisowsky; Yelena Radchenko; Lydia Zorina; Tatiana; Katherine Plaskowitz; Philip Plaskowitz, Michael Stanka; Bernadine Borawick; Julia Aymold; Mary Johnson; Lilli Ann Hoffman; Lara Marinich; Oleg Marinich; Ioann and Galina Zernetkin; Monika-Anastasia & Stephanie Handley; Blanche-Julia Stolkovich; Ekaterina Koroleva; Nina Lewis; Maryann Black; Lyudmila, Anton & Aleksander Karnup; John Alexander Bylen; Katherine Garrett; Stephen Kaminitsky; Constantine; John-Thomas Planinshek; Kenneth Pukita; William and Ann Ferkile; Sergei Krektyshev; Irina Kononova; Petr and Lyudmila Borodkin; Anthony Bakie; Svetlana & Aleksey; Nina; Mat. Galina, Alla; Anna; Alla; Raisa, Zinaida; Joseph Germano; Pavel, Vladimir, Valentina, Nina, and Maria; Maria Pappas; Bonnie Duke; Joseph Lacomy; Diana Radchenko; Aleksey Potapov; Oleg and Andrei; Vitaliy, Tatiana, Olena & Nicholas Berchuk; Marian, Irena and Isabella; David, Selina-Sophia, John, Maryann, David, Joseph, Lisa Ann Eichelberger; Cynthia and Bill (Basil) Popomaronis; Katerina Spilio; Ekaterina Kuzmina.

 

Restoration Committee Meeting: Thursday, March 1st – 6:30 PM in the Church Hall

Next Council Meeting: Thursday, March 1st – 7:30 PM in the Church Hall

 

Fr. John Vass, Pastor  443-527-7067

Fr. Deacon Michael Bishop:                    410-563-0472

Victor Marinich, Council President:           443-512-0985

Vadim Radchenko, Vice President:          410-465-6172

Andrei Burbelo,  Recording Secretary:     443-567-6031

Albert Blaszak, Treasurer:                         410-799-3226

Monika Handley, Stewardship Chair:       410-263-5758

Vacant Member-At-Large:                                                      

Natallia Makarava Sisterhood President:  443-625-8470

Michael Mickel, Cemetery Manager:        410-666-2870

 

 

 

The Condition Prior to Entering the Holy Forty Days Fast

St. Ignatius (Brianchaninov)

 

Beloved brethren! We have already reached the very gates of the holy fast! They are even now about to open before us! Already, according to the typicon of the Holy Church, we hear the instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ read to us today in the Holy Gospels about the correct way to begin the podvig of fasting. 

 

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, says the Gospel reading for today, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Mt. 6:14–15). The holy Church greets us with this announcement at the gates of the fast! This is the requirement the Church offers us on the very threshold of the spiritual chamber of repentance. We intend to prove our repentance for various sinful distractions through various deprivations and wearing out of the body. The Gospels requires mercy from us before sacrifice, so that the sacrifice would be pleasing to God. 

 

All who wish to begin this podvig of fasting and prayer, all who wish to reap abundant fruits of your repentance! Hear the word of God, hear God's commandment, and let go, forgive your neighbors their sins against you. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Amen. 

 

 

St. Theophan the Recluse: Thoughts for Each Day of the Year

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you; But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Matt. 6:14–15). What a simple and handy means of salvation! Your trespasses are forgiven under the condition that you forgive the trespasses of your neighbor against you. This means that you are in your own hands. Force yourself to pass from agitated feelings toward your brother to truly peaceful feelings—and that is all. Forgiveness day—what a great heavenly day of God this is! If all of us used it as we ought, this day would make Christian societies into heavenly societies, and the earth would merge with heaven.

 

St. John of Shanghai:  The Beginning of Great Lent

The doors of repentance are opening, Great Lent is beginning. Every year Great Lent is repeated, and each time it brings us great benefit if we spend it as we should. It is a preparation for the life to come and, more immediately, a preparation for the Bright Resurrection. 

 

Just as a stairway is built into a tall building in order to enable one, by climbing the steps, to easily reach the top, so too, the various days in the year serve as steps for our spiritual ascent. 

 

This is especially true of the days of Great Lent and Holy Pascha. 

 

By means of Great Lent we cleanse ourselves of the filth of sin, and at Holy Pascha we experience the blessedness of Christ's Kingdom that is to come. In climbing a high mountain, one tries to eliminate all unnecessary weight. The less a person carries, the easier it is for him to climb and the higher he is able to climb. So, too, in order to ascend spiritually, it is necessary first of all to free oneself from the weight of sin. This weight is lifted from us through repentance, provided that we banish from ourselves all enmity and forgive each person whom we consider to be at fault before us. Once cleansed and forgiven by God, we then greet the Bright Resurrection of Christ. 

 

And what a priceless gift of God we receive, at the culmination of our lenten struggle. We already hear about this in the first hymns of the daily lenten stichera: "Our food shall be the Lamb of God, on the holy and radiant night of His Awakening: the Victim offered for us, given in communion to the disciples on the evening of the Mystery." (Aposticha sticheron, Sunday of the Last Judgment). 

 

Communing of the Body and Blood of the Risen Christ, unto life eternal — this is the aim of the holy Quadragesima [Forty Days]. Not only on Pascha do we commune, but during Lent also. On Pascha those people should commune who have fasted, confessed and received the Holy Mysteries during Great Lent. Just before Pascha itself there is little opportunity for a proper and thorough confession; the priests are very busy and most of the time occupied with the Passion services. Rather one must prepare ahead of time. 

 

Each time one receives the Mysteries of Christ, one is united with Christ Himself; each time it is a soul-saving act. Why, then, is such significance attached to receiving Holy Communion on the night of Holy Pascha, and why are we all called to do so? 

 

Then, especially, we are given to experience the Kingdom of Christ. Then, especially, we are illumined with the Eternal Light and strengthened for the spiritual ascent. 

 

This is an irreplaceable gift of Christ, an incomparable good. Let no one deprive himself of this joy and, instead of receiving Holy Communion on Pascha night, hasten to eat meat and other foods. Communing of the Holy Mysteries on that night prepares us for the banquet in the eternal Kingdom of God.  http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/68861.htm

 

 

Cheese-Fare Sunday: Remembrance of Adam’s Expulsion from Paradise

Archimandrite John (Krestiankin)

 

In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit!

The quickly flowing river of time rushes on to eternity. Only the Holy Church and God’s feasts stop this motion momentarily, as if counting the time. And our entire life, from our birth to departure from it, is reflected in this yearly cycle; it reminds us and calls to us, “Know yourself, look inside yourself, O man. Who are you, how do you live, and what awaits you ahead? You are rushing headlong with this flow of time to timelessness, to eternity.” So it is every day, every year. 

 

Was it so long ago that the cry of the human heart, languishing in sins, rang out it the Church, “Open unto me the doors of repentance, O Giver of Life”? Our hearts trembled—the fast was already in the air. But now, the weeks of preparation for our field of repentance in Great Lent have passed, when: 

—the Pharisee and the publican were the mirrors of our souls; 

—we called out to the Heavenly Father with the voice of the prodigal son, recognizing also our distance from the Truth, our departure to a faraway land: “O God, I have sinned against heaven and before Thee; make me one of Thy hired servants.” 

—a reminder of the terrible and glorious Last Judgment of the Lord, when the books shall be opened and all secrets revealed. Not yet frightening us, it calls us to knowledge of ourselves, to repentance. 

 

Now we are at the last day of the threshold before Great Lent. On this day, the Church remembers the terrible tragedy that happened to mankind at the dawn of its history—its expulsion in the person of our forefather Adam from the face of God; the expulsion of Adam from paradise. 

 

The vale of tears and sadness—the earth—received the outcast, so that at God’s commandment the transgressor would reap thorns and thistles, so that he would eat his bread in the sweat of his brow, so that in pain, tears, and sadness he would give birth to his children and feed them, so that he would reap all the bitter fruits of his disobedience to the Heavenly Father. 

 

Adam wept in his exile, sitting “outside of paradise”; he wept, remembering what he was, what he possessed, and Who he lost. To this day, all mankind weeps and sighs over the first Adam, over the now elusive phantom of happiness. The whole world, harassed and weary, weeps because of its waywardness, because of its naked soul; because life is aimless and joyless. Nothing can fill our life so that we might unconditionally feel the fullness of true—not phantom—happiness; for this fullness is only in God. 

 

But we are exiles. Paradise is far away, and the farther mankind lives from the time of the fall, the more shadowy that beautiful image of paradise becomes in him, the deeper is mankind’s pain and suffering, and the more the image and likeness of God is erased from his soul. The world would have perished long ago, had not the Second Adam, Christ, not reopened locked paradise and given man the opportunity to return to it. 

 

We now bear the weight and sorrow of the life of an exile. Even we, who live the life of the Church, know also the paradisiacal joy of the open Royal doors, and the life-creating, jubilant words, “Christ is Risen!”; in them is the original nearness to divine love for man. But preceding this paradisal joy on earth is Great Lent, and the Church continually teaches that what we have lost through sin, we can find and regain only through repentance, podvig, and ascetic labors of great temperance. 

 

Just a few hours will pass, and we will all notice with amazement that something will change around us and within us; something will happen that will place a seal of particular concentration and attention upon everything. And along with the Church, we must pass from the call to repentance to the very labors of repentance, to the work of repentance. 

 

Our Mother-Church received the Lord’s commandment of the healing fast, which could be heard in Old Testament times for the people of God through the Prophet Joel: Now therefore, saith the Lord your God, turn to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with lamentation… sanctify a fast, proclaim a solemn service … assemble the elders… and all the inhabitants of the Lord’s house, Let the priests that minister to the Lord weep, and say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproach (Joel 2:12, 15, 16, 17). 

 

The Second Adam, Jesus Christ, began the path of His labors with a great forty days fast, so that by His divine love for fallen man He might open again locked paradise and show the way by which man may return to it. 

 

The Holy Gospels testify that, Then was Jesus led up of the Spirit into the wilderness… And when he had fasted forty days and forty nights, he was afterward an hungered (Mt. 4:1–2). And the devil came to Him and tempted Him. Great is the audacity and blindness of the dark power. Having made progress in tempting man in paradise, it began to war against God unto blindness, not recognizing in Christ the Savior and Son of God; it approached His meekness, humility, patience, purity, and holiness with the darkness of temptations woven from pride, betrayal, conceit, and lies. But sinless Christ God, Who needed no purification, opposed the tempter with fasting and prayer, showing all of us who follow Him the path of struggle with sin. And the Lord confirmed by word and deed that this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting (Mt. 17:21). 

 

By prayer and fasting, the Christian receives the strength of the Spirit from the Lord for his struggle with the enemy; through fasting and prayer he receives the gift of discernment and the mind of Christ; prayer and fasting lights the light, which disperses the darkness of sinful life, for, The light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not (Jn. 1:5). 

 

But by his will, man chooses between a path of corruption and incorruption, good and evil. If woe, suffering, and death entered life through the sin of disobedience to God, then only through obedience, prayer, and fasting—our living sacrifice of love for God—can the light of supreme righteousness, peace, and joy return. And this, my dear ones, is paradise on earth. 

 

However, according to God’s commandment, love for God on earth manifests only as love for people. The heart of a Christian can warm itself and burn only with a two-in-one love for God and people simultaneously. If our heart is hard and cruel toward our brother, to man, then darkened by dislike, coldness, and cruelty, it becomes indifferent or hypocritical toward God. And paradise, which could have been so close—in our heart—leaves and fades, and the sin of lack of love gives birth to disobedience, conceit, and self-love. 

 

But how can we love a sinner? How can we love those who do not love us, our enemies? Here also, the Lord comes to our aid. He gives us the Lord’s prayer. We hear every day, “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors…” 

 

By this prayer the Lord is saying to us, look at yourself: 

—after all, you are that very debtor who needs to be forgiven; 

—you are that very sinner; 

—you are the one who does not love—you love by choice; 

—you are someone’s enemy—you have offended someone, had contempt for someone, humiliated someone. 

 

You yourself need forgiveness, you need condescending love. The words of today’s Gospel also resound: For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses (Mt. 6:14-15). Forgive everyone everything, and you will be forgiven. Forgive, and you will be saved, and you will inherit paradise. 

 

Following immediately after these words of the Lord about forgiveness are these other words: Judge not, and ye shall not be judged (Mk. 7:1). 

 

In these words the Lord shows a very short and most sure path to salvation, which opens to us the gates of the Kingdom of Heaven. The Lord shows us that virtue, without which all our ascetic labors and efforts in life in general, and during the Great fast in particular, will be in vain. Furthermore this is the only path—the path of love for people, beginning with non-judgment. 

 

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged… In His first Coming, the Lord came not to judge the world, but to save it. He came to open locked paradise to it. After all, God gave all judgment to His Son at the Second Coming; but for now, mercy rejoiceth against judgment (Js. 2:13). 

 

Now is yet the time of God’s mercy. God still has mercy on us, but we judge and enforce. Having no doubts at all, we lift ourselves up in opinion and judgment over our neighbors, both near and far, small and great. We judge when we know much; we judge when we know nothing at all; we judge from other people’s words. 

 

Just think, my dear ones, our judgment, as the judgment of an enemy, extends even to the Savior Himself. A person has sinned before God, before people, and we are witnesses of it. But we did not see how he repented, and we did not hear the priest’s consoling words pronounced over his head: “And by the authority given to me, I forgive and absolve all your sins, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” God’s mercy has already erased the handwriting of sins, but we continue to remember and judge. This is no longer judgment over a man, but a judgment over God, Who has been merciful and forgiven. 

 

Thus, we perish by judgment. For where there is judgment, there is no love. Only love is capable of being at all times an advocate, and only love can cover our brother’s nakedness. 

 

But we judge! And this judgment becomes our own condemnation and sentence, which sounds like this: For he shall have judgment without mercy, that hath shewed no mercy (Js. 2:13)! And paradise cannot receive us, for we have no love in us. Where there is no love, there is no salvation. 

 

Today, beginning with the podvig of Great Lent, let us, friends, resolve two major spiritual lessons: do not judge and do not tempt! So that we might root ourselves in saving, blessed non-condemnation, that we might place a beginning of this podvig during the very first days of Great Lent, we must learn to see, judge, and condemn only ourselves—the only person that we truly know, from all sides and deeply. This is where judgment without mercy will be unto salvation; for this is the only judgment that will lead us to true reason. It gives us a vision of that abyss on the edge of which we stand, and which we dig out by our sins, our debts to God and people, and by our condemnation of others. 

 

This judgment of ourselves will tear a living, saving cry from our hearts that will reach the heavens: “Lord! Have mercy on me. O God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” And the miracle of our salvation will begin. The Lord will console our repentant souls and hearts with peace, calm, and love. In the words of our dear elder, St. Seraphim of Sarov, “Acquire the spirit of peace, and thousands will be saved around you”—transformation will begin in life around us. 

 

“Now is the spring of the soul!” Holy and Great Lent is at the doors. May the seed of our repentance and prayer sprout forth by it, and produce the saving fruits of our soul’s resurrection in God. 

Children of God! 

“May your mind fast from vain thoughts; 

may your will fast from evil desires; 

may your eyes fast from seeing evil; 

may your ears fast from base songs and calumnious whisperings; 

may your tongue fast from slander, condemnation, lies, flattering, and foul language; 

may your hands fast from striking, and from stealing what does not belong to you; 

may your feet fast from walking to evil deeds.” 

This is the Christian fast, which the Lord expects of us. 

 

Our friends, let us enter the Great Fast, let us enter the field of its ascetic labors—repentance, temperance, and humility—and confirm ourselves in them; so that having received forgiveness, we may meet Christ’s resurrection, Holy Pascha—the heavenly radiance on earth.  Amen.  Given on March 13, 1994 http://www.pravoslavie.ru/english/51820.htm 

 

O Most Holy Trinity, Our God, Glory to Thee!