On Sunday, March 8, the first Sunday of Great Lent, the Holy Church commemorates the triumph of Orthodoxy when the veneration of the holy icons was confirmed by the 7th Ecumenical Council. In Russia, it has been traditional in cathedrals to include with the service the so-called Anathema service. This service consists of reiterating the traditional dogmas of the Orthodox faith concerning the Orthodox belief in the Holy Trinity and the dual nature of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
There follows a condemnation of the several main heresies, both ancient and contemporary. This is done not to try to offend anyone, but as a pastoral means to making clear to the faithful where the Church stands on the many heresies which over the centuries have deluded the faithful and caused harm and division. This is done out of a pastoral concern to protect the pious children of the Church from the dangerous heresies which have led so many astray from the true faith.
And so it was that this year, as a culmination of our observing of the First Week of Great Lent, cleansed and healed from our sins by repentance and prayer, we boldly repeat once more our faithfulness to the faith of our Fathers.
Our protodeacons, Fathers Joseph and Peter, for the first time, shared proclaiming the anathemas, in English and Russian, to which each one first the clergy then the choir sang out, “Anathema!.” This was followed by a solemn prayer with “Eternal Memory” sung for the many of our forefathers, martyrs, and pastors, who have defended the true faith throughout the centuries. Finishing this service was a “Many Years” sung for all of our contemporary fathers in the Church, who are faithful to our patristic and salvific faith.
Thus at the monastery, once more the ascetic feat of the first week of Great Lent was accomplished and has hopefully set the tone for a true renewal of our souls, cleansed by prayer and repentance, and with this day’s special service, confirmed once more in our holy faith, fought for us by the ascetic and brave labors of our forefathers. May we be allowed to partake in the eternal Pascha that they share with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.