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Sunday of Orthodoxy

The first Sunday of Great Lent is dedicated to the restoration of the holy icons.  During the turbulent years of the late 7th and early 8th centuries, the Church faced a division and crisis of faith.  On one side, were the iconoclasts, literally the icon destroyers, who found all images of Christ, The Theotokos, and the saints to be idolatrous demanding their destruction.  This group had the backing of the emperor, some bishops and clergy, and the army.  On the other side of this division were the iconophiles, the icon lovers-composed of bishops, clergy, and the faithful, who defended the veneration of icons of Christ, The Theotokos, and the saints.  This group rightly incorporated the veneration of icons into their spiritual life offering the honor and devotion to the prototype, not to the wood and pigment which depicted the image.  The iconophiles claimed that God took on human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ, and so it is proper that we, the faithful, depict Christ, His Mother, and the saints in ways that assist us in drawing closer to God. 

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Forgiveness Sunday

Holy Scripture records nearly 50 times where Our Lord uses the word "forgive."  Most of us recall the passage where the Apostle Peter asks Christ how often must we forgive others.  Here is the brief, but important dialogue. "Then Peter came up and said to him, Lord, how often shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times? Jesus said to him, I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven (Matt. 18: 21-22).  The Church invites us to enter into the Season of Great Lent with forgivness, an overabundance of forgiveness.  Without this virtue, we set up ourselves for failure. 
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