“Let us set out with joy…”

Last night, during Forgiveness Vespers, we sang to following verses (Stichera) from the Lenten Triodian.  They offer insight into what we are doing (and not doing) during the Fast.  God have mercy upon us.

Save me, O Lord my God, for Thou art the salvation of all. The billows of my passions sorely trouble me, and the burden of my transgressions drags me down. Stretch out Thine hand in help and lead me up to the light of compunction, for Thou are compassionate and lovest mankind.

Gather together my scattered mind, O Lord, and purify my dry and barren heart, giving me like Peter repentance, like the Publican sighs of sorrow, and like the Harlot tears, that I may cry with a loud voice unto Thee:  Save me, O God, for Thou only art compassionate and lovest mankind.

Often when I offer praise to God, I am found to be committing sin; for while I sing the hymns with my tongue, in my soul I ponder evil thoughts.  But through repentance, O Christ my God, set right my tongue and soul, and have mercy upon me.

Let us all make hast to humble the flesh by abstinence, as we set upon the God-given course of the holy Fast, and with prayers and tears let us seek our Lord and Savior. Laying aside all memories of evil, let us cry aloud: We have sinned against Thee, O Christ our King, save us as the men of Ninevah in days of old, and in Thy compassion make us sharers in Thy heavenly Kingdom.

When I think of my works, deserving of every punishment, I despair of myself, O Lord.  For see, I have despised Thy precious commandments and wasted my life as the Prodigal. Therefore I entreat Thee: cleanse me in the waters of repentance, and through prayer and fasting make me shine with light, for Thou alone art merciful; abhor me not, O Benefactor of all, supreme in love.

Let us set out with joy upon the season of the Fast, and prepare ourselves for spiritual combat.  Let us purify our souls and cleanse our flesh; and as we fast from food, let us abstain also from every passion. Rejoicing in the virtues of the Spirit may we persevere with love, and so be counted worthy to see the solemn Passion of Christ our God, and with great spiritual gladness to behold His holy Passover.

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