“For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
- Matthew 6:14-21, Gospel for Cheesefare Sunday
“If you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
These are the words that greet us at the beginning of each Great Lent, and they can seem so simple. We hear them in various ways all the time, and we say almost exactly the same thing every time we say the Lord’s Prayer. But how often do we really think about these words? How do they really affect our lives? After all, as we celebrate Forgiveness Vespers today, do we really have anything to forgive each other for? We normally only see each other for a few hours each week, and everyone’s on their best behavior. At church, we don’t really interact with each other the way we do with the rest of the people in our lives. We normally just smile and say hello, maybe have a short conversation while drinking our coffee and eating lunch. How hard can it be to forgive and to ask for forgiveness from each other?
There is not one of God’s commandments that men have not violated, nor is there a single one that men have fulfilled without grumbling and complaint. And again, there is not one of God’s commandments that the Lord Jesus violated, and not one that He fulfilled with grumbling and complaint.Men complain of poverty and about not knowing their origins, although all men are, if you go right back, are of royal birth from God the King. And He, the only-begotten and beloved Son of God, never complained of being born in a cave, or having nowhere to lay His head.
Men find fasting hard although it is essential for the cleansing of the mind and conscience. But He, the Most Pure, who had nothing of which to be cleansed, voluntarily took a forty-day fast on Himself, a fast without bread, green vegetables or water. Read Saint Matthew 4:1-11.
After this example by the greatest Lover of mankind to has appeared on this sinful earth, and the greatest Friend we can have, who of us would dare to complain of any sort of suffering in this life? No one who has either shame or conscience.
St. Nikolai Velimirovic, Bishop of Ochrid
The Great Feast of Theophany will be celebrated at Saints Peter and Paul Parish in the following manner.
- January 5th Sunday is the Pre-Feast
Divine Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom and Great Vespers with the Blessing of Waters 9:30 am
- January 5th Sunday Matins at 5 pm
- January 6th Monday the Feast of Theophany
Divine Liturgy of St. Basil the Great at 9:30 am
The Blessing of Homes will begin this day.
The Feast commemorates the Baptism of Christ and the divine revelation of the Holy Trinity. At the Baptism of Christ, all three Persons of the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—were made manifest. Thus, the name of the Feast is Epiphany, meaning manifestation, or Theophany, meaning manifestation of God.
The Orthodoxy Church believes that in Baptism we put on Christ. We are buried with Christ in His death and raised up with Him in His glorious Resurrection. We are baptized for the remission of sins and raised up to new life. When Christ, who is without sin, was baptized by John in the Jordan it was not He who was changed. His Baptism purified the waters!