Monday, March 10, 2008

Clean Monday

This morning at Matins we chanted the following hymn (sessional hymn after the third kathisma):
Let us joyfully begin the all-hallowed season of abstinence; and let us shine with the bright radiance of the holy commandments of Christ our God, with the brightness of love and the splendour of prayer, with the purity of holiness and the strength of good courage. So, clothed, in raiment of light, let us hasten to the Holy Resurrection on the third day, that shines upon the world with the glory of eternal life.
Lent is, indeed, a time of joyful preparation for Pascha. A joy, of course, considerably different from what we tend to think of as "happiness": it is an ascetic joy, a "sorrowful joy" in the words of St John of the Ladder. We can perhaps measure our own spiritual state by considering how we meet the beginning of the Great Fast: with dread (the long and gloomy services, the meager diet, the need for restraint) or with joy.

In Greece today is a civil holiday, and many use this occasion to fly kites to symbolize the ascent of the soul as it puts off the weigh of its passions. (Granted, last time I was in Athens, it was also the occasion for BBQs along with the kite-flying – but that's another story entirely.)

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