Zulugor The church is a hospital, we as sinners are its patients, schmemanj Christ is the cure. The first universal precept is that of fasting. Nowhere else can we find such concentration of true repentance, of thirst for communion with God, of desire to permeate the whole of life with religion… Finally, a religious book: As a convert to Orthodoxy this book explained many things that I did not really understand about the Orthodox observation of Schmeann. Read more Read less. It is obviously impossible for us to go to Church every day.

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A Homily delivered to the community at St. And yet, no one will prove to me that the general tonality of Great Lent is not that of a tremendous joy! Why joy? What is that joy? Very often in Lent we hear these conversations: "What do you give up for Lent?

There is the idea that if we suffer enough, if we feel the hunger enough, if we try by all kinds of strong or light ascetical tools, mainly to "suffer" and be "tortured," so to speak, it would help us to "pay" for our absolution. But this is not our Orthodox faith. Lent is not a punishment.

Lent is not a kind of painful medicine that helps only inasmuch as it is painful. Lent is a gift from God to us, a gift which is admirable, marvelous, one that we desire.

Now a gift of what? And this essential is thanksgiving: the acceptance from God of that wonderful life, as St. Peter says, " Now we live and we forget. When was the last time I thought about it? But I do not forget so many little things and affairs that transform my whole life into empty noise, into a kind of traveling without knowing where. Essential because it is coming from God; essential because it is revealing God.

The essential time, because time again is a great, great area of sin. Because time is the time of what? Of priorities. And how often our priorities are not at all as they should be.

Yet in Lent, waiting, listening, singing You will see that time again becomes expectation, becomes something precious. After this essential time comes the essential relationship that we have with everything in the world, a relationship which is expressed so well in our liturgical texts by the word reverence. So often, everything becomes for us an object of "utilizing," something which is "for grabs," something which "belongs" to me and to which I have a "right. This is the reverence of which I speak.

It is the discovery that God, as Pasternak once said, was " God is reverent, but we so often are not. So, we have the essential time, the essential relationship with matter filled with reverence, and last, but not least, the rediscovery of the essential link among ourselves: the rediscovery that we belong to each other, the rediscovery, that no one has entered my life or your life without the will of God. And with that rediscovery, there is everywhere an appeal, an offering to do something for God: to help, to comfort, to transform, to take with you, with each one of you, that brother and sister of Christ.

This is that essential relationship. Essential time, essential matter, essential thought: all that is so different from what the world offers us. In the world everything is accidental. We kill time, we kill reverence, we transform communications, relationships, words, divine words into jokes and blasphemies, and sometimes just pure nonsense.

There is this thirst and hunger for nothing, but external success. Lenten Spring! Lenten beginning! Lenten resurrection! And all this is given to us free. Come, listen to that prayer. Make it yours! And that joy will start killing those old and painful and boring sins It is that joy which was left with them that we nobly adopted.

It is first of all the joy of knowing, the joy of having something in me which, whether I want it or not, will start transforming life in me and around me. This last essential is the essential return to each other: this is where we begin tonight. This is what we are doing right now. For if we would think of the real sins we have committed, we would say that one of the most important is exactly the style and tonality which we maintain with each other: our complaining and criticizing.

Without having repaired this relationship, there is no possibility of entering into Lent. It has broken our social relations, it has broken families. But Christ has come into the world and said: " It is impossible to go to Christ without taking with me the essential. It is not the abandonment of everything as we go to Christ; it is finding in Him the power of that resurrection: of unity, of love, of trust, of joy, of all that which, even if it occupies some place in our life, is at the same time so minuscule.

It is tragic to think that from churches, from seminaries, what comes to heaven are complaints You know, sitting in my office from time to time, I am admiring people for inventing new "tragedies" every half hour. That is the forgiveness we want and ask God to give us. Because if there is a strict commandment in the Gospel, it is that commandment: "if you forgive So, of course it is a necessity.

But the NOW of that, I repeat it once more, is to be horrified by the fragmentation of our own existence, by the pettiness in our relationships, by the destruction of words, and by the abandoning of this reverence. Now we have to forgive each other whether or not we have any explicit sins or crimes against each other.

That reconciliation is another epiphany of the Church as the Kingdom of God. We are saved because we are in the Body of Christ. We are saved because we accept from Christ the world and the essential order.

And finally, we accept Christ when we accept each other. Everything else is a lie and hypocrisy. So, fathers, brothers, sisters: let us forgive one another.

Let us not think about why. There is enough to think about. Let us do it. Right now, in a kind of deep breath, say: "Lord, help us to forgive. Lord, renew all these relationships. What a chance! Is the answer we give today yes or no? Are we going to that forgiveness? Are we gladly accepting it? This is the beginning of Lent. This is our spring "repair" because reconciliation is the powerful renewal of the ruin.

So, please, for the sake of Christ: let us forgive each other. The first thing I am asking all of you, my spiritual family, is to forgive me. Imagine how many temptations of laziness, of avoiding too much, and so on and so forth. What a constant defense of my own interests, health, or this or that Please forgive me and pray for me, so that what I am preaching I could first of all somehow, be it only a little bit, integrate and incarnate in my life.

Transcribed from tape recording and edited. Published with the approval of Juliana Schmemann in the St.


Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann

Repentance is the beginning and also the condition of a truly Christian life. But what is repentance? In the daily rush of our life we have no time to think about it, we simply take it for granted that we must go to confession, receive [6] absolution, and then forget all about it until next year. Yet there must be a reason why our Church has set apart seven weeks as a special time of repentance and calls each Orthodox Christian to a special spiritual effort. And this reason must obviously concern me, my life, my faith, my membership in the Church. I must try to understand it, to follow as much as I can the teachings of my Church, be Orthodox not only by name, but in life itself. What then is repentance?


Alexander Schmemann

January 1, Matt Bianco Fr. Alexander Schmemann is great, as usual. His explanation of Lent is, at times, tied directly to the liturgical practices during Lent of the Eastern Orthodox Church. These practices are historical and--liturgically--quite amazing. The explanation, though, is not without benefit to non-Eastern Orthodox Christians and Churches. There is much to glean from Fr.

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