This Sunday, February 18, is Forgiveness Sunday and the Sunday of the Expulsion of Adam and Eve from Paradise, as well as the commemoration of St. Leo the Great, Pope of Rome (+461). This day is also commonly known as Cheesefare Sunday, as this is the last day of consuming dairy products for those entering the Lenten fast.
The readings for this Sunday are: Luke 24:1-12 (4th Matins Gospel), Romans13:11-14:4 (Epistle), and Matthew 6:14-21 (Gospel).
After the Divine Liturgy on Sunday, we will serve the Rite of Forgiveness, thus liturgically entering into the 40 days of the Great Fast, lasting from Clean Monday through the Friday preceding Lazarus Saturday. In modern parish practice, it is not uncommon for the Rite of Forgiveness to be served immediately following the Divine Liturgy on Forgiveness Sunday (Cheesefare).
“The Sunday of Forgiveness is the last Sunday prior to the commencement of Great Lent. During the pre-Lenten period, the services of the Church include hymns from the Triodion, a liturgical book that contains the services from the Sunday of the Publican and the Pharisee, the tenth before Pascha (Easter), through Great and Holy Saturday. On the Sunday of Forgiveness focus is placed on the exile of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden, an event that shows us how far we have fallen in sin and separated ourselves from God. At the onset of Great Lent and a period of intense fasting, this Sunday reminds us of our need for God’s forgiveness and guides our hearts, minds, and spiritual efforts on returning to Him in repentance”.