Saturday before Cheesefare (Forgiveness) Sunday

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Commemoration of the Ascetics

On Saturday of Cheese Fare Week we commemorate “all the venerable Fathers and dedicated Mothers of the Lord, with the Hieromartyrs and Holy Women, known by name and unknown, “who brightly shone forth living ascetically”.

Just as leaders before fully armed warriors and already standing in the front lines speak about the exploits of old heroes and that encourages the warriors, so precisely the holy Fathers entering into the fast direct the holy men, who have shone in fasting, and teach that fasting is not only abstaining from food, but also in controlling one’s tongue, heart and eyes (Synaxarion).

In the hymns for this day the Holy Church appeals to her children:

“Come, all ye faithful, let us praise the choir of the venerable fathers; “Looking with awe at their valor, let us strive to equal them in virtue”;
“Their radiance appearing in our souls, and through the brightness of their signs they have shed their light spiritually upon all the ends of the earth”

“They pray to the Lord for all the world to deliver us from the ancient curse, freeing us from torments”.

Praising those who are well-pleasing to God, the Holy Church, turning from the face of their children exclaims in a melodious voice to them:

“O Fathers of all the world, who among those born on earth can recount the wonder of your way of life? What tongue can express your holy efforts in the Spirit and your sweat? Was it your feats of virtue, the exhaustion of your flesh, your struggles against passions, in vigils, in prayers and tears? Truly you are shown to be like angels in the world, completely destroying the demonic powers, performing strange and wondrous signs. Therefore pray, most blessed Ones, that we may receive the never ending joy”.

Together with these hymns the Holy Church, in view that this Saturday follows the commemoration of the Sunday of the Last Judgment, turning to us exclaims:

“Let us cleanse ourselves, brethren, from all defilement of flesh and spirit, let us light the lamps of our souls by our love for the poor, not devouring one another by curses. For the time is nigh when the Bridegroom shall come to reward all according to their works. In the coming of the wise virgins, may we enter with Christ, crying to Him with the voice of the thief: Remember us, O Lord, when Thou comest into Thy Kingdom”.

(by S. V. Bulgakov)