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Vespers of Forgiveness at the Archdiocesan District of Perth

Great and Holy Lent commenced with the Vespers of Forgiveness in the evening of Cheese Fare Sunday at the Church of St Nektarios in Dianella presided by His Grace Bishop Elpidios of Kyanea.


The Vespers of Forgiveness was a combined service where the clergy of the three local parishes, together with their parishioners, attended.


In his sermon, His Grace referred to quotes from the Lenten reflections recently posted on social media by St Andrew’s Greek Orthodox Theological College:


“An invitation, my dear friends, has gone out to all of us today. We are invited yet again to enter the spiritual arena. We are encouraged to use the next 40 days of Lent to ‘carve out or chisel and remove all those impediments in our life which may deprive us of our intimate communion with God.’ While this struggle can be difficult and painful, the end results are refreshing and  rewarding.”


“The Lenten hymns emphasise the importance of repentance and purity (κάθαρσις); that is struggling on a daily basis to attain purity of soul. ‘This calling for purification as a necessary basis for encountering our Lord is nothing other than the biblical call for purity: “blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Mt 5:8).”’


“As we embark on our Journey towards Pascha this year, the truth is that we are ‘confronted with very distressing and challenging circumstances:  On the world scene, we continue to witness the devastating and disastrous effects of war and the desperate plight of all those people involved in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.’”


His Grace Bishop Elpidios also shared some personal thoughts stating how he could not comprehend why a large orthodox nation decided to launch war on a much smaller nation at a time when its own church is calling its faithful to repentance and purification.


Citing further quotes from the reflections of St Andrew’s Theological College, His Grace went on to say:


“Here at home, we have witnessed the sheer huge scale of disaster caused by the flooding both in Queensland and New South Wales which has seen so many people lose everything. As our spiritual father, Archbishop Makarios of Makarios recently wrote, ‘we are by your side and share your heartache. You are not alone!’”


“These words are reminiscent of St Paul’s image of the Church as the body of Christ—when one member suffers, so does the entire body. May we identify—and perhaps even share—with the pain of those around us, knowing that, according to a wise Greek proverb: ‘pain that is shared with others, becomes half the pain, as does joy which is shared with others, this becomes twice the joy’”.


The Vespers of Forgiveness is the first service of Great Lent. This service is unique in that after the Great Prokeimenon the presiding hierarch removes his mantle and instead of holding the standard episcopal staff he holds a tall black Lenten staff called a Hazrani. In addition, the clergy exchange their bright festive colour vestments for dark (purple) and the choir begins to use distinctive Lenten tones.


On behalf of His Eminence Archbishop Makarios, His Grace wished everyone a salvific and blessed Holy and Great Lent


Due to the recent daily increase in Covid cases in Perth, it was decided that the faithful do not partake in the customary rite of mutual forgiveness.

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