SUNDAY OF CHEESE-FARE
“The Lord said: If you forgive the faults of others, your heavenly Father will forgive you yours. If you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive you.
When you fast, you are not to look glum s the hypocrites do. They change the appearance of their faces so that others may see they are fasting. I assure you, they are already repaid. When you fast, see to it that you groom your hair and wash your face. In that way no one can see you are fasting but your Father who is hidden; your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.
Do not lay up for
yourselves an earthly treasure. Moths and rust corrode; thieves break in and
steal. Make it your practice instead to store up heavenly treasure which
neither moths nor rust corrode nor thieves break in and steal. Remember, where
your treasure is there your heart is also.
Today’s Gospel tells us that there are two things we must do in order to complete the Journey of the Great Fast.
First, we must fast. Fasting is an ancient practice that dates back even to pre-Christian times. Fasting allows us to empty ourselves in order to be filled with God and God’s spirit. We do not only fast from food, in today’s world, we also need to fast from television, radio, internet, computer games or anything else that prevents us from hearing God’s voice.
Second, we must forgive. Forgiveness means we let go of resentment and hurt because someone has offended us or hurt us. In a way, Forgiveness is like fasting because when we let go of hurts, it empties a space in our heart where we can meet God.
Farewell to Cheese
Cheese-fare means ‘Farewell to Cheese’. In the early Church, no dairy products were eaten from this Sunday until Easter Sunday. Meat and cheese were seen as luxuries for most people. What luxuries can I give up?
A more ancient name for this last Pre-Great Fast Sunday is the “Expulsion of Adam from the Paradise of Bliss’. This name summarizes the entire preparation for the Great Fast. By now we know that we were created for paradise, for knowledge of God and communion with God. Our sin has deprived us of that blessed life and our existence on earth is exile. Christ, the Saviour of the world, opens the door of paradise to everyone who follows Him, and the Church, by revealing to us the beauty of the Kingdom, makes our life a pilgrimage toward our heavenly homeland.
Alexander Schmemann. The Great Lent. Pp. 27-28
Forgiveness is a central theme of Cheesefare Sunday which is also known as the Sunday of Forgiveness. “Turn to God, so that God will forgive your sins!” the apostle Peter cried out to the people at the Temple (Acts 3:19). The apostle John taught Christians: “If we confess our sins to God, God will keep this promise and do what is right: God will forgive us our sins and purify us from all our wrong doing” (1 John 1:9).
Theodore Stylianopoulos. A Year of the Lord. p. 36
In the evening of the Sunday, the faithful gather for Forgiveness Vespers. At the end of the regular Vespers service, the priest kneels before the people and says three times:
“Bless me, brothers and sisters, and forgive me, for I have committed sins today and through my entire lifetime, by word, deed, thought and by my senses.”
The people, standing, respond three times:
“May God forgive you and have mercy on you, Reverend Father, and we forgive you.”
Then, the people kneel and say three times:
“Bless me, Father, and forgive me for I have committed sins today and through my entire lifetime, by word, deed, thought and by my senses.”
Then, the priest, standing, responds three times:
“May God in His mercy, forgive you your sins, and I forgive you.”
The priest concludes the Forgiveness ceremony with this prayer:
“How good and how delightful it is when brothers and sisters live in harmony. Now it is required that we forgive each other. Let the right part of the church turn towards the left and the left towards the right. Look well, brothers and sisters, if there is someone with whom you personally will require to make peace. And now let us mutually forgive each other.”
Guide of wisdom, giver of understanding, *teacher of the ignorant and protector of the poor. *Master, strengthen my heart and make it understand. * You give me speech, Word of the Father, *for I will not keep my lips from crying out to You. *Merciful Lord, have mercy on me a sinner.
WHAT CAN I DO AT HOME OR IN MY CLASSROOM?
= Celebrate forgiveness as a class or family.
= Talk about fasting on the first day of the Great Fast.
= Read the Gospel of the day and ask the children what earthly treasures are and what heavenly treasures are.
= Read Psalm 139 which speaks about God’s presence in our lives.
= Pray for people who have hurt us.