10 SUGGESTIONS FOR LENT

ARCHBISHOP DEMETRIOS’ 10 SUGGESTIONS FOR LENT

Ten Suggestions for Lent

(edited excerpt)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archbishop_Demetrios_of_America

Meditate on the History of Salvation

Think of the Lenten period as a time of meditating on the history of salvation. Think about the creation of the universe and of Adam and Eve as the beginning of human life on earth. Think about the fall of Adam and the entrance of sin in humanity. We see in the hymnology of the liturgical book of Lent, the Triodion, constant references to the tragedy of the fall of the first human beings. For example, in the Oikos of the Matins on yesterday’s CheesefareSunday, we read: “Adam sat and cried in those days across from the delights of Paradise; beat his hands upon his face, and said: Merciful One, have mercy on me who have fallen.”

A sinless man will walk among the sick and will not become sick...


I hear a voice from the depths saying: a sinless man will walk among the sick and will not become sick. For sinfulness is health and strength, the fullness of health and strength.

One who is sinless does not die. And if a sinless man dies on account of the sins of others, he will return to life. Like all diseases - death too is a disease that sin causes. And just as no disease has power over one who is sinless, so neither does death have any power over him. Truly, sons of earth, even death is nothing more than a disease.

What sun will melt the snow from the summits of your souls, O sons of men, and cleanse your earthliness?


The snows melt on the mountain when the sun shines, and the streams flow to cleanse the earth. What sun will melt the snow from the summits of your souls, O sons of men, and cleanse your earthliness?

Sin has made your souls as stiff as icy frost. Like last year's snow, upon which new snow falls, so does your sin of last year and the years before lie dead-still, providing a bed for the sin of today and tomorrow.

You would have no sins, if you had no sinfulness; if you did not have sinful souls, you would have no sins. Snow would not be able to remain on the mountain, if the earth were warm; if the earth were warm and if the cold fog that hides the sun were to dissipate, the snow would be unable to remain either on the mountain or in the valley.

The cold ground and the cold fog are piling up snow upon snow and ice upon ice between you and your sun.

Who will absolve your sins, and who will thaw your icy hatefulness?

In vain do you yourselves forgive your own sins. By forgiving your own sins you make ice out of the snow, providing an even smoother bed for new snow.

The light of the triradiate Godhead alone can absolve your sins, just as the sun alone can melt the snow on the mountain, thaw the snow and ice, and bring forth flowers out of the black earth.

"Your sins are forgiven you, arise!"1 Do you know, O man, the One who has the authority to restore your health with these sweet words? I assure you that you will not find or meet Him on earth, even if you were to scour the entire world.

Even if you were to scour all the planets that orbit around the sun, you would not find Him. For He is not from earth, and the earth does not sustain Him.2

He is the Celestial Man and the Savior of your soul. He is far away from anyone who forgives himself his own sins, but He is near, very near to anyone who despises his sins and cries out to heaven to blot them out.

His mind is purer than sunlight, and His word is more searing than the sun. He melts the snow off the soul of man and induces flowers to grow. All those thick layers of snow and ice can be melted by Him, and all the earth can be cleansed by Him. Call upon Him from the depths of your soul, and He will come.

When He exclaims: "Your sins are forgiven" - your soul, now benumbed by the burden of sins, will become nimble and mobile, and the paralysis of the body will vanish.

The sins of the soul are the wounds of the soul. How can the body be healthy with a wounded soul?

A madman says: "Look at my neighbor, an inveterate sinner, and see how his body blossoms with good health! Surely the sin of the soul does not harm the body," says one who is out of his mind.

Just wait, madman, just wait a little longer, until the dung of the soul emerges from the body. Then you will shut your mouth and flee from sins as though you were fleeing fetid putridity. Wait until a worm devours the inside of an apple, and you will be distressed to see its outside all faded and pale.

Then you too will stand with the lepers along the road and cry out like a man near death: "O Son of God, have mercy on me!"3

And then you will hear -- and understand those salvation-­bearing words: "Your sins are forgiven; go in peace!"

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1. Matt. 9:2-8.
2. John 8:23.
3. Luke 17:12-19.

But behold, the One who resurrects is coming


How many, many times, my soul, you have sobbed for someone who knew the way, had seen the truth, and possessed life.

You thirstily used to entrust yourself to many expert runners, who would lead you along every way to a certain point, and would then take you back.

You used to listen to many who told tales about the truth, my soul. But when you would pose certain questions to them, questions which burned deep within you, their words would get stuck in their throats. And saddened, you would go to other story-tellers, and would hear the same tale over again - a tale which, like all the others, only went so far, like a stretched rubber band.

And those who used to try to explain life to you, would only succeed in opening your eyes to death.

But behold, the One who resurrects is coming, and all-terrifying death flees in terror before Him. Here is a story for you about Life, one which death does not shorten, but lengthens.1

Here is a story for you about Truth, one which provides answers to all your questions before you even pose them.

Here is the Guide for you, whose Way never ends; and once He begins to guide you, He does not go back.

Here is the Good Shepherd,2 who values the life of one sheep above all the Sabbaths of the Jews.3 And here is the Healer, to whom the life of a penitent sinner is more valuable than Solomon's temple.4

Do not worry, my soul, about any of the sheep in your sheepfold - not one of them will perish. Neither need you fret over the wolves around the sheep - not one of them will escape. For your Shepherd has a sharp two-edged sword.

All the sheep are within you, and all the wolves are within you - the progeny of your marriage with heaven and earth - and behold, my Favorite is coming in with a sharp two-edged sword.

Do not wail, if He hurts you with His sword. He is the Good Physician and He cuts out of you only that which is not you. Do not wail for the strangers who brought you disease, and shame, and grievous wounds. Do not be afraid of the inextinguishable fire, that He brings into you. For a long time the junk accumulated within you has been in need of a bonfire. The bonfire will last a long time, because the old junk within you has rotted.

The pain that you feel is not your own, my soul, but is the pain of your other marriage and its - illegitimate children.

Do not lament, if He separates you from a father and a mother, and brothers and sisters.5 He will not separate you from anything that is of heaven. He would not even consider cutting a single heavenly bond. Indeed, He is only separating and purifying you from earth, and is cutting your bonds with earth.

If you were a chaste virgin, my soul, and saw with the unconfounded eye of celestial innocence, even you yourself would easily break these bonds, for you would see that in truth they do not even exist.

Hurry, my soul, and unite yourself with the Son of the Living God, for He is not waiting for me. Once you unite yourself with Him, behold, neither His sword nor His fire will be frightening to you, but will be as sweet as honey.

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1. Luke 7:11-17, Mark 5:21-24, 34-43, and John 11:1-44.

2. John 10:1-30.

3. Luke 15:3-7.

4. John 9.

5. Gen. 12:1, Matt. 10:37 and 19:29.

Do you ask me for the way, exhausted runners?


Do you ask me for the way, exhausted runners?

To what are you racing, sons of men? If you knew what you were jogging toward, you would also know the way.

Your destinations are innumerable, therefore your ways are also innumerable.

You collide with one another and curse at each other, because your pathways cut across each other.

Even if there were as many of you as there are blades of grass on the earth, you would not be colliding with one another, if you had one destination and one direction. And your mouths would quit cursing.

Those who search for life and truth, have one destination and one direction. Their destination shows them the way, just as the sun does with light. Truly whoever hides from the sun will lose both his destination and his way, and in vain will he toss himself hither and thither in the dark.

Do not set out in the ways of your thoughts, for they lead you one thought to the next, and they know of no destination or way outside themselves.

Do not set out in the ways of your imaginations, for they allure you to level river beds until they suddenly plunge into an abyss beneath the earth.

Do not trust your soul as long as she tells you that the flesh in which she is clothed is your destination and way. Has clothing ever guided anyone?

The way to the kingdom of blessedness is not found, is not shown, and is not intersected. It is born in the soul when Life and Truth are born in her. If Life and Truth have been born in your soul, rejoice and be glad, for the Way has been born in it as well.1

Just as Life cannot be separated from Truth, so the Way cannot be separated from Life and Truth.

Until all three manifest themselves, none has been manifested.

Do not place your hope in tomorrow's day to cast bright light on your erring way. For tomorrow's day is only a new aberration of your way, and a new enigma.

Do not place your hope in days, for days are the garden of your imagination. Instead set all your hope in that Day which is never somber at dawn.

O Lord, my Lord, my triradiate Godhead, who will suffice except You?

The ways of men are a trap, in which runners run all day and at dusk find themselves in the same place. The entrapped ways of men bewilder me and I ask myself: who will suffice for a haven except my Lord?

"Whoever recognizes Me as the destination of his wayfaring," says the Lord, "will have Me as the Way to My mansions."2

O Lord, my Lord, my triradiate Godhead, who will dare to enter into Your light?

"Whoever draws near to gaze upon My light within himself, will dare to enter into My light, and will not be scorched."

O soul, my soul, my trinocturnal darkness, when will you remove your mask and be transfigured into triradiate daylight?

Save yourself while the divine torch is burning above you. For when it goes away from you it will vanish, even as the dancing moonlight has vanished in the depths of the lake.

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1. "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).

2. John 14:2.

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"As the Prophets saw, as the Apostles taught, as the Church has received, as the Teachers express in dogma, as the inhabited world understands together with them, as grace illumines, as the truth makes clear, as error has been banished, as wisdom makes bold to declare, as Christ has assured, so we think, so we speak, so we preach, honoring Christ our true God, and his Saints, in words, in writings, in thoughts, in sacrifices, in churches, in icons, worshiping and revering the One as God and Lord, and honoring them because of their common Lord as those who are close to him and serve him, and making to them relative veneration. This is the faith of the Apostles; this is the faith of the Fathers; this is the faith of the Orthodox; this faith makes fast the inhabited world."
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