In Russia, for example, one could not forget Lent if only because of a special Lenten church bell ringing; theaters were closed; and in more ancient times, the courts suspended their activities. By themselves, all those externals were obviously unable to force people into repentance or toward a more active religious life. But they created a certain atmosphere-a kind of Lenten climate-in which personal effort was made easier. Being weak, we need external reminders, symbols, signs. We are no longer living in an Orthodox society and no Lenten “climate” can, therefore, be created on a social level. Or can it? In the Orthodox worldview, the home and the family constitute the first and most important area of the Christian life, of application of Christian principles to daily existence. It is the home and family that shapes our fundamental worldview, that orients us for daily life.
How Lent is kept at home with our family, therefore, is of great importance. If Lent is an opportunity to recover our faith, it is also an opportunity to recover our true selves and true life. It is by abstaining from food that we rediscover its sweetness and learn again how to receive it from God with joy and thanksgiving. It is by “slowing down” and cutting back on our socializing, that we rediscover the ultimate value of human relationships. It is by taking Lent seriously by participating in the Lenten services, fasting and praying, practicing silence and stillness, giving alms, etc., that we can attain to truly keeping Lent. It might sound strange, but there seems to be a silver lining to this global pandemic we are facing-we are having the Lent we should have. May the reminder of it be blessed!