By keeping track of the sequence, with fasting, even with prayer at regular intervals, not exhausted all the effort during the Great Lent.
Or rather, to be all that effective and meaningful, should be supported and this life itself.
You need a “lifestyle” that does not contradict all this and does not lead to a ‘split’ existence.
In the past, countries in orthodox society itself
offered such support with the combination that had the custom,
to external changes in the law, with public and private regulations,
with all that you included the word culture.
During Lent the whole society accepts a certain pattern of life,
certain rules Reminds individual members of society the period of Lent.
For example, one could not easily be forgotten Lent
because the church bells struck
different this time
• theaters were closed and, in older times,
the courts suspended their operation.
Of course all of these stimuli alone,
it is obvious that it was not possible to force man to drive to repentance or a more vibrant religious life.
But however create a certain atmosphere
– a kind of Lent Change – where individual effort was easier.
Just because we are weak we need external reminders, symbols, signs.
Of course there is always the risk of these external symbols
to acquire independence, become an end in itself,
and so instead it is just a reminder to be the common perception
the only content of Lent.
This risk we have highlighted the above
when we talked about the external habits and festivals
replacing genuine personal effort.
But if we understand correctly then these habits will become
the “link” connecting the mental effort with life.
We do not live in an orthodox society
and of course it is possible to create
this “climate of Lent on social level.
Whether it’s Lent or not, the world that surrounds us,
that we are mice and its integral part, not changing.
Consequently being asked of us a new effort
to think about the necessary religious relationship
between ‘external’ and ‘internal’.
The “spiritual” Tragedy of secularism is
that pushes us into a real religious “schizophrenia”
a break-of our lives into two parts:
the religious and the secular,
they have less and less inter-dependence.
So the mental effort is needed
to displace the ‘Traditional’ customs and habits,
which are key instruments in our efforts during the period of Lent.
With an experimental and necessarily schematic way
one could see this effort in two contexts:
– in life within the home
– and in life outside it, even in church.
For Orthodox understanding,
the home and the family is the first and most important area of ‘Christian life’
or the application of Christian principles in daily life.
The house, that is the style and spirit of family life
and not the school, not even the Church,
that is forming within us a fundamental understanding of the world
• that formats within our basic approach
which perhaps for some time not understand it,
but eventually it will become a deciding factor.
Starets Zosima in Dostoyevsky’s Brothers Karamazov says:
“He may have fond memories of his childhood is saved for the rest of his life“.
The important thing is not to make this observation after the memory of his mother
who had taken her in the Divine Liturgy of the Pre-sanctified.
He remembers the beauty of Sequence, unique melody devout
“Accept my prayer as incense before You . . . . .”.
A great effort for religious education,
which is currently in the catechetical schools do not mean much,
if not based on the life of the family.
What, then, could and should be done at home during Lent?
Because it is impossible here to cover all aspects of family life
will limit ourselves to only one of them.
All of us, no doubt, agree that the way the family has radically altered by the presence of radio and television.
These means of “media” today pervade your entire life.
You do not have to leave the house to find “outside”.
The whole world is here permanently, within reach him . . . . . . still.
And, slowly, the immediate experience to find ourselves
in an inner world in the beauty of “interiority” is completely lost in our contemporary culture.
And if it is not TV, it’s music.
The music stopped being something I hear
• now became a constant “background noise”
that accompanies our conversations, reading, writing, etc.
In fact this need sound then music reveals the inability of modern man to enjoy the silence, to understand it not as something negative,
like a simple lack, but just as a presence and as the only condition for most real presence.
If the Christian past lived in a large degree in a silent world that gave him
rich opportunities for meditation in the inner world,
today’s Christian is forced to make a special effort to meet
this necessary dimension of silence which she only can bring us
into contact with the high realities.
So, the problem of radio and television during the Great Lent is not a marginal case,
but in many ways is a matter of spiritual life or death.
So turn around all your furniture in the direction of your icon-corner,
especial the canapé which is so comfortable.
Hang a kind of shutter over the television-display.
start breakfast with a longer prayer and bible-readings of the day,
make it a change of life in family for the whole Lent period
and your children will remember it their whole life.
– The silence created by the absence of the noise of the world,
the noise produced by the means of mass communication,
will be filled with positive content.
– If prayer is the food for our souls, food also wants our minds,
why exactly this intellectual part of man is destroyed today
by the incessant pounding of other things.
So what we are proposing, along with mental effort,
is an intellectual, so to speak, effort.
How many, true masterpieces, how wonderful fruits of human thought,
imagination and creativity deny our lives
just because we are much more comfortable way home from work,
surrendered to physical and mental fatigue,
push the button TV or sink in a perfect vacuum illustrated magazine.
But, how do we imagine that we could program the period of Lent?
Maybe make a list of books to read?
Course is not necessary that
all these books are always religious,
not everyone can become theologians.
But there is a lot of “theology” hidden in some literary masterpieces
and everything else that enriches
each kernel of true human creation
is blessed by the Church
and, when used appropriately, attains spiritual value.
The last Sundays of Lent are dedicated
to the memory of two great teachers of Christian spirituality:
Saint Gregory Palamas and John Climacos of the Ladder
They are followed by Saint Mary of Egypt.
You need to take this as evidence that a wider one
that asks us to do the Church during Lent is
to enrich the spiritual and intellectual world inside us,
to study and stimulate on what can help us
to discover this inner world and its joys.
From this joy, of the True calling of man is fulfilled internally and not externally,
the “modern world” is offering us today not even a glimpse of it
• But without it, without understanding of Lent as a journey to the depth of our being,
Lent loses its meaning.
Finally, what could be the meaning of Lent
the endless hours we spend outside the home?
In our trade, sitting in an office or exercise our professional duties, or when we associate colleagues and friends?
Although not is possible to give an exact recipe here, as in every other case, however, some very general points can be said.
And first of Lent is a wonderful opportunity to check the nature of our incredibly arrogant
in our relationships with people at various events and on the job.
“Smile!”, “Don’t worry” etc. are actually slogan
became “orders” that willingly accept and meaning:
stay out of it, do not ask,
do not you go deeper in your relationships with other people
• Save the rules of the game combining friendliness with perfect indifference
• Think everything into the frame of material gain,
the benefit of promotion, being, in other words, a piece of the world,
who while then uses big words:
freedom, responsibility, caring about the -in my eyes normal- things in life,
in our world thing changed in, when it’s not my job, when it’s not ordered,
it’s not my responsibility,
so everybody lives in his own circle, even when the whole world is disintegrating.
The materialist principle that man is what he eats!,
so we eat until we look like as overfed pigs.
Great Lent is a time to search for meaning.
To find, the meaning in my professional life in the context of my call
• personal meaning to my relations with the other persons point
• meaning to my responsibilities.
No employment, profession that can’t be “transformed”
– albeit briefly-only in order not greater efficiency
or a better organization but human relationships.
The same effort to “internalize” all our relations
is necessary because we are free human beings
who ended up [most of the time without knowing it] prisoners systems
which progressively make our world inhuman.
And if our faith there any meaning,
it must be connected with life
and all of the attendant.
Thousands of people think that the necessary changes
come only from outside the revolution and change in external conditions.
At hand is to show Christians that in fact everything starts
from the inside-from the faith and life according to this faith.
The Church when he walked in the Greco-Roman world,
not denounced slavery, not roused to revolt.
This same faith, the new vision of human life is
that which progressively abolish slavery.
– and Holy here means, quite simply, every man who always takes seriously his Faith –
will do much more to change his surrounded world
despite thousands of before printed programs.
The Saint is the only true revolutionary in this world.
Lent is an opportunity to control our words.
Our world is too verbose and mice were then flooded with words
that have lost their meaning and therefore their original Power.
Christianity reveals the sacredness of speech-a real boon to man.
That is exactly why our speech is endowed
with enormous Power either positive or negative.
So it will also be judged for our words:
“But I say to you, That every idle word that men shall speak,
they shall give account thereof in the day of Judgment.
For by your words you shall be justified,
and by your words you shalt be condemned“.
We monitor our words with reinventing the seriousness and sacredness, to understand that sometimes
a “joke” called unwisely, can have devastating effects, that may be the last “drop” that overflows the glass
and the man reaches the final despair and destruction.
But the reason may also be a witness.
A random conversation in an office with a colleague
can impart a better approach to life, an attitude to other people at work and have more results than all your representative sermons.
Your, such a conversation, fall seeds for a question
on the possibility of another approach to life,
seeds desire to get to know more.
We have really no idea how much we influence each the other with our words,
the “tone” of your own personality.
And finally people are attracted to God,
not because someone was able to give enlightening explanations,
but because they saw His Light, Joy, Depth, Seriousness, Love
the Presence and Power of God in the world.
So if this is Lent as we said in the beginning,
– it will be the discovery of our own Faith,
– it is the well compensated for my life,
– the divine meaning,
– the hidden depth.
By abstaining from food we recover the sweetness
and re-learn how to get from God with Joy and Gratitude.
By “reduce” entertainments, music, discussions, frivolous sociability,
we find the final value of human relationships,
human work of human art.
And the way I see all this just
because you will find God Himself,
because you will return to Him and by Him
all that He has given you
through His perfect Love and Mercy.
What is so striking about the description of Pascha
that ”the prisoners” experienced the Resurrection of Jesus Christ
not as something that has happened but as something that is happening.
We are not celebrating a historical event,
We are participating in a current reality.
What is more, Christ is risen
in and through all prisoners.
Broken and starving as they are,
they have to become filled with a Joy
that completely transcended our earthly condition,
a Holy Joy that surely will seem irrational,
even insane, to the unbeliever.
Cf. Father Alexander Schmemann, “Lent“.