Forgiveness Vespers—the service which marks the opening of Great Lent for Orthodox Christians—was celebrated by His Beatitude, Metropolitan Herman, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, for the seminary and monastic community at Saint Tikhon Monastery here on Sunday evening, March 9, 2003.
“The lenten season formally begins at the mid-point of the Forgiveness Vesper Service, with the singing of a psalm verses which speak of the importance of repentance,” according to the Very Rev. John Matusiak, OCA Communications Director. “At the conclusion of the verses, the distinctive lenten chant melody is sung for the first time, and the Lenten Prayer of Saint Ephraim of Syria, offered at every lenten service, is recited.”
At the conclusion of the service, Metropolitan Herman offered words of encouragement to the seminarians and monastic brotherhood, stressing the importance of prayer, fasting and almsgiving not only during the lenten season, but in every season of a Christian’s life.
The service concluded with Metropolitan Herman leading the faithful in the Rite of Forgiveness, during which they ask forgiveness of one another as the “first step in the journey to Pascha.”
On Monday evening, March 10, Metropolitan Herman celebrated Compline with the reading of the Great Canon of Saint Andrew of Crete at Saint Vladimir Seminary’s Three Hierarchs Chapel, Crestwood, NY.
Following the service, which marked the close of the first day of the seminary’s annual lenten retreat, Metropolitan Herman addressed members of the seminary community, encouraging them to endure with the joy of anticipation of Christ’s Resurrection.
Also addressing the seminarians during the two-day retreat at St. Vladimir’s is the Rev. Alexander Atty, Rector of Saint Michael Antiochian Orthodox Church, Louisville, KY, who is offering lenten meditations each afternoon after the celebration of the Third and Sixth Hours.
Throughout the lenten season, Metropolitan Herman will maintain a full schedule of parish visitations. Further information on his lenten visitations may be found on the OCA web site at Metropolitan’s Schedule.