Troparion Tone 8
The doors of repentance do Thou open to me, O Giver of life,
for my spirit waketh at dawn toward Thy holy temple,
bearing a temple of the body all defiled.
But in Thy compassion, cleanse it by the loving-kindness of Thy mercy.
Theotokion Tone 8
Guide me in the paths of salvation, O Theotokos,
for I have defiled my soul with shameful sins,
and have wasted all my life in slothfulness,
but by thine intercessions deliever me from all uncleanness.
Troparion Tone 6
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy
Glory to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit
And according to the multitude of Thy compassions, blot out my transgressions.
Both now and ever and unto ages of ages, Amen.
When I think of the multitude of evil things I have done, I, a wretched one,
I tremble at the fearful day of judgment;
but trusting in the mercy of Thy loving-kindness, like David do I cry unto Thee:
Have mercy on me, O God, according to Thy great mercy.
Kontakion of the Sunday of Forgiveness Tone 6
O Thou Guide unto wisdom, Bestower of prudence, Instructor of the foolish, and Defender of the poor;
establish and grant understanding unto my heart, O Master.
Grant me speech, O Word of the Father;
for behold, I shall not keep my lips from crying unto Thee:
O Merciful One, have mercy on me who have fallen.
And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof. Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.
For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
Protopresbyter Alexander Schmemann says, of this morning’s Gospel:
Lent is the liberation of our enslavement to sin, from the prison of “this world.” And the Gospel lesson of this last Sunday (Matt. 6:14-21) sets the conditions for that liberation. The first one is fasting–the refusal to accept the desires and urges of our fallen nature as normal, the effort to free ourselves from the dictatorship of flesh and matter over the spirit. To be effective, however, our fast must not be hypocritical, a “showing off.” We must “appear not unto men to fast but to our Father who is in secret.” The second condition is forgiveness–“If you forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you.” The triumph of sin, the main sign of its rule over the world, is division, opposition, separation, hatred. Therefore, the first break through this fortress of sin is forgiveness: the return to unity, solidarity, love. To forgive is to put between me and my “enemy” the radiant forgiveness of God Himself. To forgive is to reject the hopeless “dead-ends” of human relations and to refer them to Christ. Forgiveness is truly a “breakthrough” of the Kingdom into this sinful and fallen world. (Great Lent: Journey to Pascha, p. 28)
He continues, discussing the Vesperal service of this evening, at the point of the Prokeimenon:
Turn not away Thy face from Thy servant for I am afflicted!
Hear me speedily.
Attend to my soul and deliver it!
Listen to the unique melody of this verse–to this cry that suddenly fills the church: “. . . for I am afflicted!”–and you will understand this starting point of Lent: the mysterious mixture of despair and hope, of darkness and light. All preparation has now come to an end. I stand before God, before the glory and the beauty of His kingdom. I realize that I belong to it, that I have no other home, no other joy, no other goal; I also realize that I am exiled from it into the darkness and sadness of sin, “for I am afflicted!” And finally, I realize that only God can help in that affliction, that only He can “attend to my soul.” Repentance is, above everything else, a desperate call for that divine help.
Five times we repeat the Prokeimenon. And then, Lent is here! Bright vestments are put aside; lights are extinguished. When the celebrant intones the petitions for the evening litany, the choir responsds in the lenten “key.” For the first time the lenten prayer of St. Ephrem accompanied by prostrations is read. At the end of the service all the faithful approach the priest and one another asking for mutual forgiveness. But as they perform this rite of reconciliation, as Lent is inaugurated by this movement of love, reunion, and brotherhood, the choir sings the Paschal hymns. We will have to wander forty days through the desert of Lent. Yet at the end already shines the light of Easter, the light of the Kingdom. (Great Lent: Journey to Pascha, pp. 29-30)