A number of years ago during the years of communism, a certain old Romanian priest would never greet anyone with the typical “Hello” or “Good Morning”. Instead, he greeted anyone he met with a radiant smile and the words “Rejoice always!” Now this may seem like an unusual way to greet someone, but it is even more incomprehensible when one learned that this priest was in terrible prison, while his son and daughter, along with two sons-in-law also suffered in prison.
Brothers and sisters, we have lived this week in the light of last Sunday—the Triumph of Orthodoxy. A wonderful feature was pointed out to us in the Gospel, which was then read: Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found Him, of Whom Moses in the law, and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? (Jn. 1:45-46). Both of them, Philip and Nathanael, wanted to believe in the right way, praise God rightly, that is, to be Orthodox.
Saint Agathon of Egypt (Commemorated Mar. 2/ Mar. 15) died in about the year 435. For three days before his repose the monk sat in silence and concentration, as though disturbed about something. When the monks questioned him, he answered that he saw himself before the Judgment Seat of God. “How is it possible that you, Father, should fear judgment?” they asked him. “I have done my best to keep the commandments of the Lord, but I am a man.
All mortal life is but one day, so it is said, to those who labour with love. There are forty days in the Fast: let us keep them all with joy
[Canticle IX of the Canon, Monday of the First Week].
To the Venerable Monastics, Reverend Clergy and Pious Faithful of the Orthodox Church in America:
If anyone be devout and love God,
Let him commence this radiant fast with joy!
If anyone be a wise servant,
Let him, rejoicing, enter into the school of repentance.