Great Lent, A Journey

“…My brethren, rejoice in the Lord. For me to write the same things to you is not tedious, but for you it is safe.” – St. Paul to the Church of the Philippians 3.1

March 7 is the beginning of our Lenten journey, in our Orthodox Tradition we call the first day of Great Lent, Clean Monday. On this day we begin in earnest our efforts to arrive spiritually renewed and prepared on April 24, Pascha, to celebrate the Feast of Feasts our Lord’s resurrection.

Every journey begins by our making preparations for our trip. We decide what to pack and we choose items we know we will need on the way. For this spiritual odyssey we read in scripture and hear from other travelers more experienced than ourselves that certain things should fill our spiritual luggage. We are reminded to pack humility, love for others, prayer, fasting, and the reading of Holy Scripture. They encourage us to make time for special excursions like Great Compline, Mondays at 4 pm, Pre-Sanctified Liturgies, Wednesdays at 5:30 pm, Akathist to the Mother of God, Fridays at 4 pm, and Holy Confession.

Over time we may have decided that certain things are no longer necessary or beneficial for us. We may have grown indifferent, lazy or prideful when it comes to spiritual exercises. Great Lent offers us an opportunity to reconsider our relationship with Jesus Christ. It affords us the opportunity to examine our spiritual life and to revive our spiritual journey. If we don’t take this opportunity seriously we will be unable to celebrate fully the meaning of the resurrection. More importantly if we don’t pay attention to the spiritual life we will miss the transformative nature of it. By extending ourselves and putting forward some effort in the spiritual realm we find that it is possible to reach our destination and to behold the beauty of this life changing journey.