Sunday of Forgiveness

On Forgiveness Sunday, in all Orthodox churches, the presiding clergyman reads a special prayer after the conclusion of the Vespers service that beseeches God to assist the faithful in the keeping of the fast. After it is read, all the clergy, starting with the patriarch, request forgiveness from all the faithful present in the church, and the laity request forgiveness from the clergy, and from one another personally. One says to another, “Forgive me”, and the traditional answer is “God forgives. Please, forgive me, as well”.

Was it possible to avoid losing Paradise?

If people, instead of seeking guilt in others, could find in themselves spiritual foces to beg God, each other and all surrounding paradisal world, for forgiveness, after we have suffered as a result of human fall, an unseen miracle would happen -- healing of human nature and reinstatement of harmony in relationship with God.

But our forefathers did not through themeselves into the embraces of Divine love with repentance, but hid from Him.

The Sunday of Forgiveness is the last Sunday prior to the commencement of Great Lent. During the pre-Lenten period, the services of the Church include hymns from the Triodion, a liturgical book that contains the services from the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, the tenth before Pascha (Easter), through Great and Holy Saturday. On the Sunday of Forgiveness focus is placed on the exile of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, an event that shows us how far we have fallen in sin and separated ourselves from God. At the onset of Great Lent and a period of intense fasting, this Sunday reminds us of our need for God’s forgiveness and guides our hearts, minds, and spiritual efforts on returning to Him in repentance.

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