Venerable fathers, God-loving monks and nuns, dear brothers and sisters!
On March 7, by the Grace of God, we are entering the great feat of fasting – a special time favorable for spiritual improvement.
The Lent is, first of all, a period of special fervent prayer to God. At this time, which we are experiencing now, prayer and fasting, as virtues, are vital for us. The Holy Scripture tells us: “God is Love” (1 John 4:16). But in order to find this love for the people around us, it is necessary to purify the soul with prayer, often confess our sins that darken the soul and distance us from God, and worthily partake of the Holy and Life-giving Mysteries of Christ. May each of us be able to concentrate spiritually on the days of the Holy Lent in order to adequately receive the Risen Christ into our hearts.
In such a difficult time that we are living, I call on all of you, dear fathers, brothers and sisters, to unite in prayer, I consider it useful for each Parish of the diocese to distribute among the parishioners during this Great Lent a daily reading of one kathisma from the Psalter with the addition of a “prayer for peace”, so that every day the Psalter is fully read at each Parish. As St. Ambrose of Milan says: – “The grace of God breathes in all scripture, but in the sweet song of the psalms it breathes mainly. History instructs, the law teaches, prophesies, foreshadows, moralizing convinces, and the book of Psalms convinces of all this, and is the most complete medical clinic of human salvation.” The spiritual benefit of reading the Psalter consists in bringing spiritual fruits, which are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, goodness, mercy, faith, meekness, abstinence (Gal. 5:22).
All these are gifts of the Holy Spirit, but they are given to those who seek God. Reading the Psalter, we, despite all our sins, raise our hearts to Heaven. May each of us be able to focus spiritually and unite in this important prayerful work for peace on the days of the Holy Lent.
The eve of the Holy Lent turns our thoughts to a spiritual feat.
We enter Lent through a special rite of forgiveness, and this is not accidental. The first words of the Savior’s sermon were the words calling for repentance: “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).
We know how easy it is to sin and how difficult it is to repent. Repentance is a Christian response to a sin, but in order to give an answer, you need to be able to correctly evaluate your actions and carefully monitor the state of your soul.
Mutual Christian forgiveness provides a good beginning to the passage of the Holy Lent, therefore, the Monk Ephraim the Syrian warns: “If you, man, do not forgive anyone who has sinned against you, then do not bother yourself with fasting and prayer: God will not accept you.”
I am aware that I, as your archpastor, could upset someone, offend, not take the time to listen and comfort those who needed it. According to my human nature, I have offended someone, willingly or unwittingly, and today I sincerely apologize to all of you, dear fathers, brothers and sisters, for my imperfections.
Bless and forgive me, fathers, brothers and sisters.
Let the Sunday of Forgiveness be not the only day of the “Rite of Forgiveness”, but our whole life will become a feat of repentance about our voluntary and involuntary sins. Thus, each of us will bear a feat of love and repentance and effective efforts to ensure that the peace and blessing of God return to our lives.
May God’s blessing be with you all during the days of the Holy and saving Lenten Week.
BY THE GRACE OF GOD,
METROPOLITAN OF MANILA AND HANOI