Beloved honorable Fathers, brothers and sisters in Christ!
The time of Great Lent is at hand. In the yearly cycle in the life of the Church, the coming days are days of repentance. We celebrated the Nativity of Christ and Theophany, and since the feast day of Theophany, we have heard sermons on repentance. The preaching of St. John the Baptist, the beginning of the preaching of Jesus Christ, the tale of Zacchaeus, the parables of the Publican and the Pharisee, the Prodigal Son, the story of the Last Judgment, the approaching Forgiveness Sunday, and later, Pascha.
Such is the cycle of church life, feast days, lenten periods, feast days, which mirrors everyday life – peaceful, tranquil days, contentment, joy, and then, whether as a result of sin or external disasters – sorrow, troubles,dangers and worries.
In the cycle of each person’s life, as well as of a people, Great Lent and Pascha draw near in equal measure to the repentance of each person and of all. The spirit of repentance is like a fire, it starts in one place and spreads further.
The history of the Russian people; St. Vladimir, the baptism of Russia, the Mongol yoke, the Muscovy kingdom, the Time of Troubles, the crowning of Mikhail Fedorovich, 300 years of the might and glory of Russia, the calamity of the Revolution, the tragic years of communism, the scattering of the Russian people, are the Great Lents and Paschas of history. The spirit of repentance ignites in disparate people and then spreads to others, as in the case of the ascetics in the monasteries or forests, like St. Sergius of Radonezh or St. Seraphim of Sarov.
And now the spirit of repentance smolders in the hearts of many, and when it bursts into flame, the deliverance will arrive – the Pascha of our Lord.
Let us yearn to join with this spirit. No one can be forced to repent. Each of us must strive to light the spark of repentance in ourselves. Let each of us begin this repentance in the accepted manner knowing that it will be a spark to enflame repentance in our families, parishes, in all of society, in the country where we live and in our Homeland!
I humbly ask you all for forgiveness and your holy prayers!
With love to you all,
Bishop of Sao Paulo and South America