Before we part completely from the Great Fast…

From Bishop KALLISTOS of Diokleia (formerly Timothy Ware), The Lenten Triodion, pp. 44-47, in The Bible and the Holy Fathers for Orthodox, ed. Johanna Manley, pp. 710-711 (emphasis added by LPO’F):

“Repentance is the door through which we enter Lent, the starting-point of our journey to Pascha. And to repent signifies far more than self-pity or futile regret over things done in the past. The Greek term metanoia* means ‘change of mind’: to repent is to be renewed, to be transformed in our inward viewpoint, to attain a fresh way of looking at our relationship to God and to others. The fault of the Pharisee is that he has no desire to change his outlook; he is complacent, self-satisfied, and so he allows no place for God to act within him. The Publican, on the other hand, truly longs for a ‘change of mind’: he is self-dissatisfied, ‘poor in spirit’ …The parable of the Prodigal forms an exact ikon of repentance in its different stages. Sin is exile, enslavement to strangers, hunger. Repentance is the return from exile to our true home; it is to receive back our inheritance and freedom in the Father’s house. But repentance implies action: ‘I will rise up and go’ …[These two] Sundays spoke to us of God’s patience and limitless compassion, of His readiness to accept every sinner who returns to Him. On the third Sunday, we are powerfully reminded of a complementary truth: no one is so patient and so merciful as God, but even He does not forgive those who do not repent. The God of love is also a God of righteousness, and when Christ comes again in glory, He will come as our judge …The Great Fast is a preparation for the Second Coming of the Savior, for the eternal Passover in the Age to Come …Nor is the judgment merely in the future. Here and now, each day and each hour, in hardening our hearts towards others and in failing to respond to the opportunities we are given of helping them, we are already passing judgment on ourselves …

“Before we enter the Lenten fast, we are reminded that there can be no true fast, no genuine repentance, no reconciliation with God, unless we are at the same time reconciled with one another. A fast without mutual love is the fast of demons …We do not travel the road of Lent as isolated individuals but as members of a family.”

(*–BTW, this is the same word Greeks use for prostrations, pronouncing it mi-TAHN-ya according to Modern Greek and sometimes spelling it metania. [They call that the “ioticisation” of the “oi,” that is, transforming its pronunciation to match iota or “i,” that is, “ee,” or “y” as a consonant {in English terms, as here}…which itself is more understandable when we realize that the word iota isn’t pronounced like the Isle or College of Iona, but like Yoda. You will thank me for this small digression if your conscious information about how to read or pronounce Greek is from Western sources as was mine, and you find yourself in a Liturgy in Greek trying to follow along in the bilingual liturgy book, as have I!] We repent with our body as able, not just our head or “heart;” but we don’t just prostrate with our body, either, but also our head, heart, and life. -LPO’F)


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