I know its been more than a month since I posted, but that doesn't mean that I haven't been cooking and eating! I do apologise for the long drought. I've been very busy with iconography commissions and with preparing recipes for my parish's new cookbook. I'll post more information about how to order the cookbook in another post.
Sunday is the last day that Orthodox Christians will consume dairy products until Pascha. We abstain from all meat, fish with backbones, dairy and eggs for the 40 days of Great Lent, plus the 7 days of Holy, or Passion Week. In our household, we have already been doing pretty well with a vegan lifestyle, so we will need to focus our attention more on increasing our prayer rule and increasing our acts of charity. To read my thoughts about fasting, click here.
Sunday is also called Forgiveness Sunday. It is at Forgiveness Sunday vespers that the Great Fast begins. We call it Forgiveness Sunday because in each Orthodox parish all over the world, the entire community, from the littlest baby to the oldest senior, including all the clergy, and ask each other for forgiveness for their faults, known and unknown, which ocurred all year. We do this, as is sung at vespers, to "begin the Fast with joy" and to prepare for confession, since it is strongly encouraged that everyone go to confession during Lent. We ask forgiveness of each other because we understand that when we forgive others, we receive forgiveness ourselves. "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)" (From a sermon by St Patriarch Tikhon, when he was Bishop of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. 1901. Text taken from email posted to an Orthodox mailing list)
This Rite of Forgiveness is profoundly moving and life changing. To watch parents ask forgiveness of their children, husbands and wives, friends and family, clergy and parishioners, is deeply, deeply meaningful. Humbly asking to be forgiven, and humbly granting forgiveness does, indeed, truly change lives and relationships.
Fr. Alexander Schmemann spoke much more eloquently than me. Click here to read his writings about Forgiveness Sunday.