Shubqono - Prayer of Reconcilation
The Shubhkono service is on the first Monday of the Great Lent after the noon prayers. This service is a preperation for lent and forgivness and is marked by 40 prostrations and the kiss of peace at the end of the service.
"Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?.
Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven." - Matthew 18:22
Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” - Luke 23:34
The Gospel reading for the service is the "Parable of the Unforgiving Servant." The Gospel reading reminds us that not only must we be willing to ask for mercy or forgiveness but we must be willing to practice forgiveness and mercy. The Gospel of Saint Luke further reminds us of this when our Lord says “Be you therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.” (Luke 6:36) Our Lord even reminds us of this when He teaches us to how pray in the prayer Our Father; “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” (Matthew 6:12).
Russian Icon of the Parable of the Unforgiving Servant
The Church, on this very afternoon of the ‘Day of Forgiveness,’ has set her journey into penitence. And so, kneeling and prostrating, her people look ahead to Kymtho, the great feast of the Light. The service of reconciliation is conducted on Monday, the first day if the Great Lent, at the end of third hour. The Service of Reconciliation or shubqono, stands at the ‘threshold of Great Lent.’ The service marks the actual doorway into Lent, the threshold on the other side of which stands the fullest measure of ascesis that the Church metes out to the whole of her faithful throughout the world.
As we enter the Great Lent, let us be reconciled in our hearts, minds, and souls. O Father God, please help us to use this as an opportunity to truly understand the meaning of the prayer You taught us through the words "Forgive our debts and sins as we forgive our debtors." Bless us so we may forgive.
As we stand at the threshold of the fast, we sing of him who stood before the gates of Eden. As we make ready to enter in to this season of preparation, we sing often:
O merciful and compassionate Lord, to You I cry aloud: I am fallen! Have mercy on me! Your grace has shown forth, O Lord, it has shone forth and given light to our souls. Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the season of repentance. Let us cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light, that having sailed across the great sea of the Fast, we may reach the third-day Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of our souls.
The scene painted by the hymns of the day is one of a great and terrible sorrow. We lament the loss of so great a gift – the gift to be children of God. Our sins have forced us to be exiles from glory. We are in want. No more can we look upon the Lord our God and Maker. As Great Lent begins, we are reminded in language stronger and more direct than ever before of the gravity of our condition in sin:
‘Woe is me, what have I suffered in my misery! I transgressed the commandments of the Master, and now I am deprived of every blessing.' Then the Savior said: 'I desire not the loss of the creature which I fashioned, but that he should be saved and come to knowledge of the truth; and when he comes to me I will not cast him out.’
By the transgression of the will of God we threw aside the gift of grace and blessings. However, we have a God who loves us and is abundant in His mercy. ‘I will not cast him out.’ God’s words in this are already the words of salvation. They are words of calling, of beckoning, of reconciliation. But they are also words of directive: 'when he comes to me....' God does not take fallen man and, with a divine fiat that would mean little to the long-term well being of humankind, magically place him back into glory from which we ourselves have exiled. God knows that it is our heart that most desperately needs to be healed, needs to be turned away from the desire for its own ends and back to a desire for the heart of God Himself. And so the Savior whispers to us, 'When you come back to me, I will not cast you out'.
Our prayer must be:
Come, my wretched soul, and weep today over your acts, remembering how once you were stripped naked in Eden and cast out from delight and unending joy.
Lent is beginning, and as the personal tone of the hymns professes, this is to be my Fast, my exile, my return. I cannot of myself escape from Adam’s condition. But through the Church, I need not suffer alone the whole torment of Adam. ‘Let us love abstinence, that we may not weep as he did outside Paradise, but may enter through the gate.’ Great Lent is also a harbor, a safe port wherein we may suffer our repentance in the surety of divine grace and tender compassion. Thus do we petition the Lord:
O God of all, Lord of mercy, look down compassionately upon my lowliness and do not send me far away from Eden; but may I perceive the glory from which I have fallen, and hasten with lamentations to regain what I have lost.
We are called to amend and to change our ways of living, thinking and acting from within the full scope of our lives in Christ. During Lent we are thrust into a forum for change, wherein our greatest aid is the incarnate and resurrected Son of God Himself.
The arena of the virtues has been opened. Let all who wish to struggle for the prize now enter, girding themselves for the noble contest of the Fast; for those that strive lawfully are justly crowned. Taking up the armor of the Cross, let us make war against the enemy. Let us have as our invisible rampart the Faith, prayer as our breastplate, and as our helmet almsgiving; and as our sword let us use fasting that cuts away all evil from our heart. If we do this, we shall receive the true crown from Christ the King of all at the Day of Judgment.
'Let us use fasting that cuts away all evil from our heart.' The entrance into Great Lent is made as the entrance into the full fray of the spiritual and physical battle we must each wage on the journey into the Kingdom of God. And though this is a battle we must each wage ourselves, we do not enter into it alone. As an invisible rampart, we have the truth of God revealed in His Son and in all the economy of space and time, borne alive in our hearts through the illumination of baptism. And as a visible rampart we have the Church, though here, too, there is the reality of the invisible. It is within the community of all the faithful, past and present, that we struggle towards resurrection, towards Kymtho. It is amidst our neighbors that we stand in this arena and wage this battle. ‘If we do this, we shall receive the true crown.’ From the usual context of ‘I’ and ‘You’ in which we communicate day by day, Great Lent calls us to stand before the gates of Paradise in solidarity as the great family of humankind, the united children on the one God.
And so, forgiveness. The first step in our journey through Lent must be this act of mutual forgiveness, of reconciling ourselves to one another in the context of the holy community in which we shall grow and advance together. If we set out upon the season of inner repentance without beginning here, in an act of fraternal repentance, then we will certainly find ourselves ‘committing sin while singing hymns with our tongues.’ The gate of Paradise will only be more firmly shut. But if this moment of mutual forgiveness is embraced and made real in our lives, then we shall be readily equipped both as individuals and as a community to fight worthily the battle before us. It shall not be we alone in the arena, but we the united Church who stand together in the contest that leads to all the brightness of the third-day Resurrection. And from within this community we will be able to find in our own selves the authentic voice of our genuine individuality, and shall be able to cry out and say:
Cleanse me in the waters of repentance, and through prayer and fasting make me shine with light, for Thou alone art merciful. Abhor me not, O Benefactor of all, supreme in love.
Ashwalan moryo aloho b’tayboothok l’hoosoyo d’hawbai w’shoobqono dahtohai b’hono yawmo qadisho d’ithaw shooroyo d’soomoyeekh qadisho.
Make us worthy, O Lord God, by Your abundant grace, for the remission of sins and the forgiveness of debts on this holy day, which is the beginning of Your Holy Fast.
Reconciliation with each other
“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift."
“Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny."
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother.”
"Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you"
Reconciliation through Christ
"All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation."
2 Corinthians 5:18-19
Reconciliation through Blood of Christ
“For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.”