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.


  1. Since I married Fr. A, the longest we lived in one place was our three years in seminary (most of which was child-, and thus mess-, free) so my usual method of spring cleaning was to pack everything in boxes and move to a different state. LOL.

    We'll be in our third summer in this rental and we have two kids, so I'll probably tackle a few jobs this Lent as well. Though I have to say, I use a (greatly modified) version of Fly Lady's Zone schedule and it sort of makes spring cleaning unnecessary since every room gets a pretty thorough cleaning once every couple months. I look at the Lenten spring cleaning lists going around and they just depress me. I can't imagine squeezing that much more into our already super packed church schedule. It makes more sense to me to either move the cleaning until after Bright Week when everything gets easier or spread it out over the year. (I chose the latter.)

    Good luck!

    1. Well, I'm hoping to use this season as a jump-start to a regular cleaning schedule. Even if I manage to do the dishes every other day, that would be an improvement on my "regular cleaning." I make sure everyone has clean laundry, and that's about my current level of housekeeping.

      I was realizing the other day that The Only Time I've ever lived in a clean house was when I was living with my sister and her house was on the market. (I'm counting even a moment of time that I remember the house being clean and/or uncluttered.)

      So I understand getting disheartened at the Lenten cleaning lists going around, but you're way ahead of me with giving every room a thorough cleaning more than once a year. (We're not even close over here.)

      And I didn't post about going to my mother's house and getting almost 20 boxes of childhood books and toys (two of which (books, alas) I think were lost in the mail), so we're still recovering from those, too.

      Thank you for your comment! Good strength to you and your family!