With the Blessings of Archbishop Makarios of Australia, Bishop Bartholomew of Charioupolis, the Archiepiscopal Vicar of Canberra visited Hobart, Tasmania, and conducted the Vespers of Forgiveness at the church of St George. Assisting Bishop Bartholomew were Fathers of Tasmania, Irinaios Kiokas and Dimitrios Katsis.
In his sermon, Bishop Bartholomew spoke about the opportunities that Great Lent provides each individual to come to Christ and that we should make an attempt to take advantage of these opportunities.
In particular, Bishop Bartholomew emphasized four opportunities. Firstly the desire to want to be with Christ, the desire to want to have a closer relationship with Him. Secondly the importance of love and forgiveness. This sacred period of Holy and Great Lent must be for each individual an opportunity to neglect our egotism and seek love and forgiveness from our fellow brethren. Thirdly Holy and Great Lent provides us the opportunity to acquire virtues, virtues that are given by Bishop Bartholomew of the Holy Spirit, humility, mercy, chastity, generosity, gratitude, and diligence.
Moreover prayer and fasting. The Church provides us with extra services during Great Lent, the Compline services, the liturgy of the Presanctified Gifts, the Salutations to the Theotokos, the Great Canon of St Andrew, the Vespers services on Sunday evenings, and of course our Sunday services. All these services have as a goal for us to pray more thus placing Christ as a priority with a closer relationship to Him.
In addition, we fast from certain foods in order for the church to teach us discipline. If we are unable to show discipline by abstaining from certain foods how are we to learn how to decrease the passions that lead us to sin. Furthermore, Adam and Eve were exiled from paradise because they did not fast, through fasting we have the opportunity to return to the original beauty. Bishop Bartholomew emphasized that fasting is not only about what we consume in our bodies, however, we must learn to fast from hatred, jealousy, cunningness, lies, injustices, gossiping, and our egotistic selves.
In the end, Bishop Bartholomew conveyed to both the clergy and laity of Hobart on behalf of Archbishop Makarios all the very best for a blessed Lent, as we prepare to venerate the Holy Cross and celebrate the Holy and Glorious Third Day Resurrection of our Lord.
In addition, on behalf of the clergy of Tasmania, Bishop Bartholomew asked forgiveness from the congregation and in turn asked the people of Tasmania to pray for their Archbishop and Father, their Bishop, and their priests.