There are institutes and symbols adopted by nations, churches or groups of men which represent certain ideals accumulated in the past. These institutes, that is precepts recognized as authoritative, and symbols represent the thoughts and feelings of those who created or adopted them and put in them all the experience of the past, often through struggle and sacrifice. A few feet of ribbon for instance, red, blue and white in color, have little value as is. But if one puts them in a certain pattern of stripes and stars, they become the flag of the United States and represent the ideals and unity of the people of America. The flag reminds us of the people's struggle for liberty. It represents the national unity which attained for them their rights as a people. The same could be said for the institutes of a nation, army or any group of people. These institutes are created by the people and are used by them in certain ways for certain aims. Some of these institutes are the means for achieving certain values and ideals. In the life of the Church of Christ there are many institutes created and maintained to meet the needs of the people - the Ecclesia. Among these is the Great Lent which falls within the year-cycle of the life of the Church before Pascha-Easter. Lent is the period of time for self-examination by the believer; of putting on the spiritual armor of the Militant Church; of applying the riches of prayers and almsgiving; of adopting deeply the meaning of repentance; of atonement and reconciliation with God Almighty.
CHEESEFARE SUNDAY (Matthew 6:14-21).
The theme of this Sunday refers to the expulsion of Adam from Paradise. Adam in Paradise misused his freedom by allowing himself to be persuaded by the evil one to disobey the command to not eat of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The evil one convinced him that by so doing he would know more than God. The Church in its hymnology presents the condition of Adam outside of Paradise as weeping and working hard for his livelihood. The Gospel passage of the day refers to the manner of praying, fasting, almsgiving and all good works. These are to be done in secret, without boasting. The meaning of this Sunday is the condescension of God to the human weakness, "for if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" (v. 14-15). This is emphasized in the Lord's Prayer.,The week (six days) preceding Sunday of Cheese and after Meat Sunday, is the addition to the period of the Great Lent which completes the forty days of fasting (excluding Saturdays and Sundays). The name of this Sunday, "Cheese", implies that the fast of this week is the gradual transition from eating meat to the strict fast of Lent, which starts the next day, Monday, with the first Sunday of Lent at the end of the preliminary seven days (Sunday of Orthodoxy).
Fasting, in our days, has become one of the most neglected spiritual values. Because of misunderstandings regarding the nature of fasting, because of confused and reversed priorities in its use, many of today's Orthodox Christians fast very little, or disregard fasting altogether.
The Great and Holy Council of the Orthodox Church which is scheduled to be convened in the near future has placed the problem of fasting as one of the first items on its agenda. It is hoped that through this Council the age-old practice of the Church to use fasting as one of the important means of spiritual growth will regain its proper place in the life of the Church.
WASHINGTON - Kosovo represents one of the transit countries over which mainly heroin produced in Turkey and Afghanistan is being transferred to Western European countries. But it is also a „promising market for drugs'', according to the 2008 U.S. State Department's International Narcotis Control Stategy Report.
The faithful of the Metropolis of San Francisco, especially those in the greater Los Angeles area, are encouraged to attend a truly historic celebration of the Sunday of Orthodoxy, March 16, 2008 at St. Sophia Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Los Angeles. This will be the first annual Pan-Orthodox Hierarchical Divine Liturgy with presiding bishops: His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos of San Francisco (Greek Orthodox), His Grace Bishop Joseph of Los Angeles and the West (Antiochian Orthodox), His Grace Bishop Maxim of Western America (Serbian Orthodox), and His Grace Bishop Benjamin of San Francisco and the West (OCA Orthodox).
This all-English service will begin with Matins at 8:30 a.m., and the Hierarchical Divine Liturgy at 10:00 a.m., followed by the Procession of Icons.
The members of the Holy Synod of Bishops [of the Serbian Orthodox Church], escorted by an Italian KFOR contingent, arrived yesterday in the holy lavra of the Peć Patriarchate Monastery, where they held their fifth regular session this year, having first served Holy Hierarchal Liturgy in the Church of the Holy Apostles.
Holding today's session in this patriarchal seat and ancient spiritual heart of the Serbian Orthodox Church is a sign of the Church's concern for its holy shrines and its faithful in Kosovo and Metohija, who were addressed with words of encouragement and paternal love in this period burdened with suffering and new trails.