In the evening of Cheese-Fare Sunday, February 18, 2018, clergy and faithful of the NJ/NY Deanery of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church of the USA gathered in prayer at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary parish in South Plainfield, New Jersey for Sunday of Forgiveness Vespers. Four days before that, on Wednesday at Vespers we greet Lent with this beautiful Hymn:
The Lenten spring has come!
The light of repentance;
Let us, brothers, cleanse ourselves from all evil,
Crying out to the Giver of Light:
Glory to Thee, O Lover of man.
Serving around the altar and led by V. Rev. Oleh Hucul clergy were: Rev. Vasyl Pasakas - parish pastor, V. Rev. Zinoviy Zharsky, Rev. Myron Korostil, Rev. James Cairns, Deacon Ivan Tchopko and Deacon Richard Jendras. Responses were prayerfully sung by the Deanery Choir and student body of St. Sophia Ukrainian Orthodox Theological Seminary, perfectly directed by Natalia Honcharenko of St. Andrew Memorial Church. As every year, this time around as well the words from this beautiful service made us to think that we are like Adam:
Adam was expelled from paradise through food;
Sitting, therefore, in front of it he cried:
“Woe to me…
One commandment of God have I transgressed,
Depriving myself of all that is good;
Paradise holy! Planted for me,
And now because of Eve closed to to me;
Pray to thy Creator and mine
That I may be filled again by thy blossom.”
Then answered the Savior to him:
“I wish not My creation to perish;
I desire it to be saved and to know the Truth;
For I will not turn away him who comes to Me…”
At the conclusion of the service, as one family in Christ, we asked God and each other for forgiveness, and with those words hoping for the most spiritually rewarding pilgrimage we took our first steps into Great Lent with clean hearts keeping in mind that as from food, we must abstain from all passion.
Following Vespers, a light Lenten luncheon, prepared by Dobrodijka Oksana Pasakas, Anita Anderson and Ginny Yavorskiy, was served.
As is in previous years, the NJ/NY Deanery journeys through the Great Lent together, visiting each local parish on a weekly basis for Presanctified Liturgy. Together as one Church family, we prepare ourselves spiritually for the Resurrection of our Lord.
Photos by Seminarian Yaroslav Bilohan