Let us begin the all-holy season of fasting with joy; Let us shine with the bright radiance of the holy commandments of Christ our God: with the brightness of love and the splendor of prayer, the strength of good courage and the purity of holiness! So, clothed in garments of light, let us hasten to the Holy Resurrection on the third day, that shines on the world with the glory of eternal life!
This is the first day of the Fast. For you, soul, let it be the setting aside of sin, the return to God; to life with Him. Flee from the abyss of evil. Love only those ways which lead to peace, resting before and within God.
Let us present a good fast, well-pleasing to the Lord! A true fast is alienation from the Evil One; The holding of one’s tongue, the laying aside of all anger, the removal of all sensuality, of accusation, falsehood and sins of swearing. The weakening of these will make the fast true and well-pleasing.
The hymns above are all from the beginning of Great Lent. They remind us the fast is not just about changing diet or even mostly about food abstinence. The hymns make it clear there are many things that are needed for a good fast; joy, love, prayer. courage, holiness, light, peace, fleeing evil, being silent, controlling anger and swearing, ignoring sexual desire, not lying, not accusing others. If one only controls one’s food appetite, one misses much of what Great Lent offers us.