UKRAINIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF THE USA
CONSISTORY OFFICE OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
Forgiveness Vespers of NY/NJ Deanery with Bishop Daniel!
By Subdeacon Vasyl Pasakas
South Bound Brook, NJ. His Grace Bishop Daniel, the Ruling Hierarch of the Western Eparchy of the UOC of the USA joined Protopresbyter Taras Chubenko, the Dean of NY/NJ Deanery of the Eastern Eparchy of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA, as well as Fr. Yurij Siwko, Fr. Ivan Lymar, Fr. Peter Hotrovich, Fr. Oleh Hucul, Fr. Volodymyr Zinchyshyn, Fr. Myroslav Shirta, Fr. Mykola Filyk, Fr. Volodymyr Muzychka, Fr. Ivan Synevskyy, Deacon James Cairns and parishioners of the Deanery parish communities and guests, as well as seminarians of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary for the beginning of Great and Holy Lent by the celebration of the Forgiveness Vespers and the service of Forgiveness at St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church, which marks in the Holy Orthodox Church the beginning of the journey of Great Lent.
In his homily, Bishop Daniel emphasized that one of the most striking warning words in the celebration of the Forgiveness Vespers, as this relates to our life long faith journey is the word "discouragement." "We should never allow the devil to discourage us or drive a wedge between our lives and our faith. When we stop practicing our faith, we lose it," said Bishop Daniel. “Today the Lord is emphasizing to us the need to forgive. It is true that this is Forgiveness Sunday, and it is natural that we would hear about this subject from Him in the way that we have just heard. However, the Lord speaks to us about forgiveness not just today as we are formally about to enter Great Lent. He is speaking to us about forgiveness all the time. In the context of the Our Father, the Saviour is saying to us: If you don’t forgive your brothers their trespasses, then neither will God forgive you yours. We are saying the Our Father every day, many times.
In this prayer, we are saying to the Lord exactly this over and over and over again: Forgive us our debts or trespasses as we forgive our debtors or those who trespass against us (depending on the translation you are following). It all means the same, anyway. As much as we forgive those who are sinning against us or who are hurting us, we can expect God to forgive us. However, if we don’t forgive, then how can we expect God to forgive us? The way of the Christian is all about this forgiveness. It is the fundamental of the way of the Christian…
We need to forgive each other. We need to be asking each other’s forgiveness, and not just today. It really is the Orthodox way to be asking forgiveness one of another all the time. So brothers, and sisters, let’s get serious about this forgiving. Let us ask the Lord to renew our hearts so that we will be both able, and willing to forgive (starting now, right here, this minute) everyone around here, and then more following a little bit later – but from the heart.
Let us ask the Lord to enable this forgiveness to flow freely in our hearts starting right now. Let us ask Him that this forgiveness may have fulfillment when we approach His Table here. When He is, Himself, giving us Himself in His Body, and Blood, may this forgiveness multiply in His presence in us. It is by living in forgiveness that we will truly be able to live in love, and to demonstrate Christ in our lives. May the Lord give us the Grace to glorify Him always, everywhere, and in all things: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, now, and ever, and unto the ages of ages. Amen.”
Protopresbyter Taras Chubenko, the Dean of the NY/NJ Deanery and a pastor of St. Demetrious Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral in Carteret, NJ said that the Deanery has embraced the opportunity to extend a warm welcome to the clergy and laity to join in this special celebration in order to raise our spiritual awareness.
Forgiveness for the Holy Orthodox Church is essential for the beginning of Great Lent and this is why the Orthodox Church begins Great Lent with this special service. "Forgiveness gives us peace and when we are at peace, we can pray," said Father Taras. The journey of Great Lent shows us that we are all prodigals and that we choose many times to live in a far off land. The call of the journey of Great Lent is to bring us back to the warmth of the Father's embrace and to restore our likeness to him. The celebration of the Resurrection of our Lord is the goal of the Lenten journey and hopefully, the spiritual restoration of each person on this journey.
Father Taras Chubenko thanked Bishop Daniel for his prayers and presence at the service. Following the Vespers service the bishop asked forgiveness from the clergy and the congregation, and had an opportunity to embrace each parishioner and wish them spiritual strength as the Lenten journey started its course.
Clergy, parishioners and guests had an opportunity to visit with Bishop Daniel at the conclusion of the Forgiveness Vesper service during the Lenten dinner, prepared by the Pokrova of the Mother of God Sisterhood of St. Andrew Ukrainian Orthodox Memorial Church in South Bound Brook, NJ.
Forgiveness Vespers of NY/NJ Deanery with Bishop Daniel! - 02/26/12Forgiveness Vespers of NY/NJ Deanery with Bishop Daniel!