Liturgically, we Orthodox enter Great Lent at Forgiveness Vespers. The first thing, the most important thing we do for Great Lent is to forgive from our hearts our fellow parishioners and our family members.
The sign of sincere love is to forgive wrongs done to us. It was with such love that the Lord loved the world. (St. Mark the Ascetic, THE PHILOKALIA, Kindle Loc. 3609-10)
St. Peter of Damaskos reminds us that it is forgiving others, more than anything else we do as Christians, which will lead to God forgiving us. Nothing, not fasting, nor even repentance more quickly brings about God forgiving us than our forgiving others!
Moreover, if we do not forgive others their debts, the Father will not forgive us our debts (cf. Matt. 6:14). Indeed, nothing leads more swiftly to the forgiveness of sins than this virtue or commandment: ‘Forgive, and you will be forgiven’ (cf. Matt. 6:14).” (THE PHILOKALIA, Kindle Loc. 26234-40)
We of course read in the Orthodox Church the Matthew 6 Gospel about forgiveness on the day before Great Lent begins. We are reminded of the utmost importance of forgiveness to our own spiritual lives. The way to being forgiven our sins, the way to repentance, the way to Pascha, the way to the Kingdom of God is to forgive others.
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