HOW SHALL I BEGIN LENT?
”Where shall I begin to weep over the deeds of my wretched life? How shall I begin, O Christ, to relieve my present tears? But as You are deeply compassionate, grant me forgiveness of sins.” (Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete)
Why is this first day of Lent called “Clean Monday”? Because yesterday, on Forgiveness Sunday, we cleaned our plates of all resentments and grudges, letting go of the burdens of any masks or self-justification. Now I approach God with nothing, as did the tax-collector with his nothing, so I can freely, cathartically weep before His mercy: “God, have mercy on me, the sinner!”
The questions posed at the very beginning of the Great Canon, chanted tonight in our churches and quoted above, “Where shall I begin to weep…?” make me think of two other questions, which the risen Lord asked Mary Magdalene just outside His tomb: “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom do you seek?” These are very helpful questions, the right questions, as I begin my Lenten “weeping,” and re-discover the true reasons for the hole in my heart. My distance fom You, Lord, is why I am weeping; and it is You, not anyone or anything else, Whom I seek! Please guide me, as I begin this light-filled, Lenten journey of re-focusing in my weeping and seeking, in You and toward You. Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, the sinner.