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Laying aside every weight, let us run with patience

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

If we believe that the things above, the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, are worth seeking, then the Lenten requirements are not burdensome. It is our lingering “old man,” the relic of our fallen nature that looks for the things of this earth. From our fallen state, we sense deprivation when we are asked to follow our Lord’s commandments through the traditions of the Church.

These acts that maintain the Church’s life, the fasting and other Lenten observances and commemorations, are part of his Apostolic commission to “observe all things” that He commanded His disciples to teach us. The Gospel selection that records His commission of the Apostles is read at every baptism. With every baptism, there is a sense of brightness and celebration. With every baptism, there is a newfound freedom, not the freedom of license, but that liberation that comes with enlightenment and renewal. Just so, through the season of the Fast, we seek to renew what we received at baptism. We want to anticipate and experience with clear eyes and clean hearts just what it is that God has done and is doing for us.

His great salvation wrought through His earthly life culminating in His death and resurrection should be kept ever in our mind’s eye. To do this, we use the Lenten observances to train our faculties to enable us to better cooperate with the words prayed every day: “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.”

It will soon be time for spring-cleaning to refresh our houses and gardens for the new season of growth. Just so, with joyful anticipation and hope of heightened and renewed understanding and fervor informing our patience, let us as faithful Orthodox Christians move toward the “prize of our high calling,” both in this season and for our whole life.

Father George

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