March 2023 English Newsletter Posted September 13, 2023 by admin


My Beloved the Benevolent                                                 March 2023

Grace and peace to you all, wishing you a blessed and acceptable fasting period

The period of the Great Lent is a period of change.  During Lent, we change the type of food we eat and commit to a vegan diet. The period of the Great Lent is a period of change in the Holy Liturgies a well; this period is characterized by daily liturgies in most churches and late services on weekdays. The Great Lent is also characterized by a change in the church readings.  The church arranged special readings for the Sundays and weekdays of the Great Lent.

The Gospel readings of each Sunday of Great Lent deals with a specific topic which that Sunday is named after. For example: Sunday of the Treasures because the Gospel invites us to lay up treasures in heaven; Sunday of the Temptations because the Gospel is about the temptation of Christ in the wilderness. Also, the readings of the weekday Liturgies revolve around the subject of Sunday’s readings.

The Lenten Fast is also characterized by a change in hymns.  The weekdays of fasting have special hymns, and the Sundays of fasting have other hymns, whether in the Midnight Prayer or the Liturgies.

The Holy Church teaches us that change during the Great Lent – whether in food, prayers, readings, etc., –  leads us to the most important change, which is the change of life.

During Lent, the church invites us to remember the words of the Apostle Paul, “He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.” 2 Corinthians 5:15

The Lenten period is a blessed time to review our spiritual life, behavior, and dealings with others.  Do we really live, not for ourselves, but for Christ our God, Who gave His life for us?

The period of the Great Lent is a period of repentance, and repentance is a change of mind.  Repentance may seem like a change in behavior and actions, but repentance in essence is changing the mind and changing of thoughts. If a person changes his actions without changing his thoughts, he returns to his previous behavior.  An example of this is the prophet, Jonah; Jonah sinned when he disobeyed the Lord’s command to go to Nineveh, and fled to Tarshish.  But God, in His vast mercy, did not leave him but orchestrated the storm that hit the ship in which he was fleeing, and Jonah ended up finding himself in the belly of the whale. He offered repentance in a profound prayer mentioned in the book of Jonah in the second chapter.  Jonah went to Nineveh and called to its people for what God had assigned him to do; it seemed that Jonah repented completely and truly, but it was repentance of action and not repentance of thought. The thought that made Jonah flee to Tarshish did not change as he went to Nineveh.  The book of Jonah mentions Jonah’s obedience to the command of the Lord, “and Jonah arose and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord.” Jonah 3:3

When the people of Nineveh offered great repentance and turned from their wicked ways, God had mercy on them and did not destroy the city; Jonah was very sad and said, “Ah, Lord, was not this what I said when I was still in my country? Therefore, I fled previously to Tarshish; for I know that you are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, one who relents from doing harm.” Jonah 4:2. Jonah’s problem was not that God is merciful in general, because he benefited from God’s mercy in his repentance, and he did not complain that God saved him from the belly of the whale. But Jonah believed that God’s mercy was only for his people and that the Gentiles of Nineveh did not deserve God’s mercy.  This wrong thought that made him not want to go to Nineveh and flee to Tarshish did not change with his repentance in the belly of the whale, but despite his going to Nineveh as God commanded, he went there with the same wrong thought. So, God, in His mercy and love for Jonah, taught Him through the plant that the people of Nineveh are His creation and His people as well, and that they deserved His mercy if they repent of their evils.

True repentance begins with a change of mind.  St. Paul asks us, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Romans 12:2

We pray to our good God to grant us, by the grace of His Holy Spirit, a renewal of the mind, so that we may live a life of true repentance, and that the period of the Great Lent will be a period of change in our lives, so that we may live for the sake of our Christ, who loved us and gave Himself for us.

May God bless your gifts to support Santa Verena’s charitable programs.

Metropolitan Serapion