Fr. Thomas Hopko, of blessed memory, wrote a wonderful book called 'The Lenten Spring'. In the second chapter he expresses how the essence of Great Lent is to be filled with Christ's joy. Here are a few excerpts that underscore this reality:
Let us enter the Fast with joy, O faithful.
Let us not be sad.
Let us cleanse our faces with the waters of dispassion, blessing and exalting Christ forever.
Let us begin the Fast with joy.
Let us give ourselves to spiritual efforts.
Let us cleanse our souls.
Let us clean our flesh.
Let us fast from passions as we fast from foods,
taking pleasure in the good works of the Spirit and accomplishing them in love
that we all may be made worthy to see the passion of Christ our God
and His Holy Pascha, rejoicing with spiritual joy.
Repentance and joy, compunction and consolation, godly grief and spiritual rejoicing are joined together in perfect union in the person who fights for the Lord.
May we all enter into the beautiful season of Great Lent with joy, seeking to cultivate bright sadness throughout our journey so that we can fully enter into the Paschal radiance of our Lord's resurrection.