“Considering all this, therefore, dearly beloved, and placing great store on our salvation, let us despise intemperance as mindless and harmful, let us embrace fasting, and right attitudes along with it; let us display a renewed lifestyle, and address ourselves daily to performance of good deeds. In this way, having spent all the holy season of Lent dealing in spiritual goods and amassing great wealth of virtue, we would thus merit to arrive at the day of the Lord and approach with confidence that awesome spiritual banquet, and with conscience pure share in those ineffable and immortal goods. Being filled therefore with grace and with the prayers and intercessions of those well-pleasing to Christ, our loving God, to whom with the Father and the Holy Spirit we give glory, power, and honor, now and forever, for ages of ages.”
Saint John Chrysostom – Homily for the Beginning of Great Lenten Fast
2015 Journey Toward Pascha – The Great Lenten Fast
Glory to Jesus Christ! Glory Forever! Slava Isusu Christu! Slava na v’iki!
Dear Faithful of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh,
As we begin the season of the Great Lenten Fast, we turn inward and look for spiritual healing. When our bodies are not feeling well, we go to a doctor or a drug store for medicine to feel better. Likewise, Saint John Chrysostom’s Homily at the Beginning of Lent described the Church as the pharmacy. During the season of Lent, we go to Church for spiritual medicine to make us better.
The strongest spiritual medicine is fasting.
Saint John served as Bishop of Antioch and Archbishop of Constantinople. Both cities were capitals of the Roman Empire. He asked the faithful to turn away from desire for luxury and amusement of the games. The great cities were a magnet for those who did not follow the true faith or believed in other gods. Saint John proclaimed the truth and suffered, was exiled, and died for the true faith. We pray that our faith be as strong.
Saint John called his people and clergy to turn back to fasting and prayer as the medicine that only the true faith could provide. Today, we are also called to listen to the words of Chrysostom to pray, fast, and to remember the poor and oppressed. Our world offers even more diversions and alternative religions than in Roman times, but the way to eternal life remains the same.
We are called to follow the guidelines for fasting from foods, to attend the Lenten services, to read and meditate upon the divine words of scripture and the fathers of the Church each day during the season of Great Lenten Fast. We are called to give to the poor and live simply. And we are called to forgive those who have hurt us and do works of kindness and mercy for those who are in need.
We have been asked by Bishop Frank Kalabat of the Chaldean Church of Detroit to pray in a special way for the Churches in Iraq and the Middle East which are suffering from direct suppression and martyrdom. We ask the Lord to change the hearts of the oppressors from acts of violence against Christians. We also pray, encourage and support Christians throughout the world who are suffering for believing and trying to preserve their ancient faith in Jesus Christ.
The prayer and fasting of one believer can make a difference. The prayers of an entire church makes the even the evil one cringe. As Atlantic cod flee to deeper waters and Idaho potatoes are smashed into fasting food, so evil spirits will flee or be turned to the Lord during this Season of the Great Fast.
Strengthened by the medicine of fasting and prayer, we and those lifted up in prayer can be healed. Ahead of all passing things, our faith in the eternal truth can become the most important treasure in our lives. With renewed hearts, we can celebrate this paschal feast with greater faith and joy.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend William C. Skurla, D.D.
Metropolitan Archbishop of Pittsburgh