Today, for those who aren’t aware, is the beginning of Lent for Eastern Christians. Unlike the formal Ash Wednesday services of the West, the Great Fast in the East comes up quietly and with much lounging. That’s right, lounging. It’s a day of fasting, but one of happy fasting, picnics in the park, kite flying, and generally keeping with Christ’s command to “anoint your head and wash your face,” rather than bearing the unhappy countenance of the hypocrites.
So, since today is Clean Monday, the first day of a time set aside to examine your life and cleanse yourself of your sinful habits and attitudes, it’s worth looking into the fasting rules for this time. Unlike the over simplified popular thought on Lent (that one simply gives up a thing one enjoys and doesn’t eat meat on Fridays) the East has a very specific and rigorous rule of fasting. Now, not everyone is capable of following to a tee, but it’s still worth considering how much of it you should include in your Lenten observances.And so, let us (Romans following on Wednesday) make our way into the desert, to prepare ourselves for the the glory of Pascha.