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Bishop Anthony's Pastoral Letter for Great Lent 2017

Great Lent 2017
Beloved Clergy and Faithful of the Midwest Diocese,

Glory to Jesus Christ!

As we move into the Lenten Spring (God has given us springtime weather already), we should remember this season of discipline for body, mind, and soul as a gracious opportunity, and not a grueling obligation!

This is a time to get ready for redemption. Great Lent is essentially two things: Repentance through prayer and Bodily Discipline through fasting. St. John Chrysostom has written, "Repentance is the medicine which destroys sin; it is a heavenly gift, a force of grace that transforms all. It does not reject the immoral and is not dismissive of the alcoholic and does not reject the idolater, the slanderer, or the arrogant. It regenerates everybody because it is a furnace for the purification of sin. The wound and the medicine; these are sin and repentance."

Prayer and fasting shelters the new growth of spiritual maturity in us, like buds that come out in spring and the fruit that follows the flower. Abba Agathon said, "All our care should be directed towards the fruit – we must guard the spirit; but it needs protection and help to grow from the foliage, the canopy of leaves and branches, which is bodily discipline."

As we all seek forgiveness from our Heavenly Father as prodigal children and celebrate Forgiveness Vespers inaugurating the Great Lent, I ask your forgiveness for all my weaknesses, shortcomings, and sins.

May our long-suffering, compassionate, and merciful Lord grant us a blessed and fruitful Fast!

Yours in Christ,

+Bishop ANTHONY
Bishop of Toledo
Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America

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