Sunday, February 26, 2012

Clean Monday Eve

When we were at seminary, I remember Fr. Seraphim mentioning, "Nobody gets excited about Lent."  Ever since then, at the beginning of each Great Fast, I've thought about all the things I do look forward to during this season.

I do like the thought of lentil soup ... that other people make.  I don't think I've actually tried to make it myself, but I'm definitely looking forward to the fellowship meals after Presanctified Liturgies during Lent.

Based on Mat. Emma's post on her lenten cleaning plan, I made up a few lists and just now combined them into my own little aspiring plan for cleaning the house in Lent.  My first list was all the things that bother me and my husband—the binders that I've been meaning to send to a cousin, the stack of books which doesn't belong anywhere, the empty boxes in the garage that haven't yet been thrown away—all these things that get in the way of our living. And, of course, the dirt which probably underlies everything.

My second list was the weeks (by Sundays) of Lent:

  • Sunday of Forgiveness (today, which isn't technically in Lent, but it starts off the week)
  • Sunday of Orthodoxy
  • Sunday of St. Gregory Palamas
  • Sunday of the Holy Cross
  • Feast of the Annunciation
  • Sunday of St. Mary of Egypt
  • Palm Sunday
And I realized—how little time I have to accomplish all these things!  Before, Lent had always seemed to stretch out forever until Holy Week and Pascha (and meats and cheese and milk and ice cream) would come to relieve us of this heavy burden.  Now (and I hope to keep hold of this idea), it seems like a blessing to have this order of weeks to examine what is under the roof of my house*—and this applies to the physical house as well as the spiritual house.  If I can't take responsibility for my own environment, how can I take responsibility for my spiritual health?  I hope that, as with fasting and prostrations and other physical practices the Church traditions embrace and teach, this exercise will have more than a physical effect, and bear spiritual fruit.

*cf. the prayers in preparation for Holy Communion: "As Thou didst not disdain to enter and to eat with sinners in the house of Simon the leper, so now be pleased to enter into the house of my soul, humble and leprous and sinful," and "I am not worthy, Master and Lord, that Thou shouldst enter under the roof of my soul; yet inasmuch as Thou desirest to live in me as the Lover of mankind, I approach with boldness," as well as Matthew 8:8.

So I'm getting excited about Lent.  I'm afraid, too, that it will be hard, that I'll yell and snap at the people I have been given to love, that I will grumble and complain about, well, everything, and that I'll fall away from the habits I should be cultivating which will bring me closer to God and the image of spiritual health.  Please pray for me.