Russian Orthodox Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk CNS photo/Robert Duncan

February 24, 2020

“Devils take great delight in fullness, and drunkenness and bodily comfort. Fasting possesses great power and it works glorious things. To fast is to banquet with angels.”

+ St. Athanasius

Friends–

    Dr. Moynihan apologizes for his absence this past couple of weeks, but with good reason- there is so much good going on!

    Besides the usual work of keeping the magazine in print and planning pilgrimages, he has been hard at work on his next book with deadlines approaching. We are also laying the groundwork for a number of initiatives all focused on the work of Building Bridges– some of which you may have heard about, others have yet to be formally announced– but rest assured: our project of Urbi et Orbi Foundation is growing stronger by the day and has potential for creating dialogue and encounters to foster unity in the Body of Christ.

    Through the busyness, we are mindful of our setting in the liturgical calendar as it guides our life in the Church. Lent is upon us! For our Eastern brothers and sisters of the Gregorian calendar, Great Lent, in fact, begins this very day– Clean Monday it is called. Fasting is taken on in earnest, and the work of reflection is heightened as sins and faults are rooted out and targeted for metanoia– true repentance and transformation.

    As Lent begins, we start with the end in mind: the Passion of the Incarnate God for the sake of our salvation. This is where true forgiveness lies. This is where true bridges are built. This is why we do what we do. The Passion of Christ unites us as nothing else can.

    Back in 2007, Urbi et Orbi had a hand in the premiere performances of a new musical setting of The Passion According to St. Matthew by the (then Bishop) Hilarion (Alfeyev), Metropolitan of Volokolamsk and Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations for the Russian Orthodox Church. On March 27th of that year, it was performed in Moscow, and then two days later in Rome to an audience that included several Cardinals. Throughout this Lenten season, he will be releasing the recording in segments, making this work accessible to the public. We have been given the distinct privilege of making this know to you. As portions of the work become available, we will send them to you to inspire and edify you along the Lenten path.

Here is the first installment:

Art has a way of breaking down barriers. In a time when conversations come with difficulty, and relationships have strains like we are seeing between the Patriarchates of Orthodoxy at this time, we look to the Beauty that is Cross. We pray with fasting and almsgiving in anticipation of the fulfilment of all that has been promised– including the prayer of Jesus that we “all may be one” (John 17:21).

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