Forgiveness Sunday

Expulsionfromeden1

O Lord, Who art the guide to wisdom, the bestower of prudence, the instructor of the thoughtless, and the protector of the poor, strengthen and enlighten my heart. Give me the gift of expression, O Thou Who art the Word of the Father; for behold I will not prevent my lips from crying to Thee: O Merciful Lord, have mercy on me who have fallen (Kontakion – Tone 6)

14 For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: 15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
16 Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 17 But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; 18 That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: 20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: 21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Mt 6:14–21 KJV)

While this week is commonly known as “Forgiveness Sunday” due to the right of forgiveness served before the beginning of Great Lent on the next day, the actual feast is dedicated to the expulsion from paradise or Eden. The hymns from the Lenten Triodion focus on this as we prepare our journey to the paradise of Pascha.

Adam was driven out of Paradise, because in disobedience he had eaten food; but Moses was granted the vision of God, because he had cleansed the eyes of his soul by fasting. If then we long to dwell in Paradise, let us abstain from all needless food; and if we desire to see God, let us like Moses fast for forty days.
(Third troparion of the Praises, Matins of Forgiveness Sunday)

Expulsionfromeden2

The Lord my Creator took me as dust from the earth, and with the breath of life he gave me a soul and made me a living creature. He honoured me as ruler on earth over all things visible and as a companion of the Angels. But Satan the deceiver, using the serpent as his instrument, enticed me by food, separated me from the glory of God and gave me over to the earth and to the lowest depths of death. But as Master and compassionate call me back again.

Wretch that I am, I have cast off the robe woven by God, disobeying your divine command, Lord, at the counsel of the enemy, and I am clothed now in fig leaves and in garments of skin. I am condemned to eat the bread of toil in the sweat of my brow, and the earth has been cursed so that it bears thorns and thistles for me. But, Lord, who in the last times were made flesh of a Virgin, call me back and bring me into Paradise again.

O precious Paradise, unsurpassed beauty, tabernacle built by God, unending gladness and delight, glory of the just, joy of prophets, and dwelling place of saints, with the sound of your leaves implore to the Maker of all to open for me the gates which I closed by my transgression, and may count me worthy to partake of the Tree of Life and of the joy in which I delighted when I dwelt in you before

Adam was banished from Paradise through disobedience and cast out from delight, beguiled by the words of a woman. Naked he sat opposite the place, lamenting ‘Woe is me!’ Therefore let us all make haste to accept the season of the Fast and obey the traditions of the Gospel, that through them we may become well-pleasing to Christ and once more receive Paradise as our dwelling.

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