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Clean Monday

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  • Rev Mark Gilstrap
    This has been posted for the last dozen years or so - a Tradition. (now available at http://www.roca.org/OA/47/47g.htm) A Child s Lent Remembered An excerpt
    Message 1 of 6 , Mar 18, 2002
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      This has been posted for the last dozen years or so - a Tradition.
      (now available at http://www.roca.org/OA/47/47g.htm)

      "A Child's Lent Remembered"

      An excerpt from Ivan Shmelyov's "Anno Domini", a wistful recollection of
      life in his pious,
      old-fashioned, well-to-do home in pre-Revolutionary Moscow. translated from
      the Russian
      by Maria Belaeff and published in "Orthodox America", v5, #7, February
      1985. Posted with
      permission of the editors.

      +++++++++++++++++++++++

      Clean Monday

      I waken from harsh light in my room: a bare kind of light, cold
      dismal. Yes, it's Great Lent today. The pink curtains, with their
      hunters and their ducks, have already been taken down while
      I slept, and that's why it's so bare and dismal in the room. It's
      Clean Monday today for us, and everything in our house is being
      scrubbed.

      Greyish weather, the thaw. The dripping beyond the window is
      like weeping. Our old carpenter - Gorkin, "the panel man" - said
      yesterday that when Lady Shrovetide leaves, she'll weep. And so
      she is - drip...drip...drip... There she goes!

      I look at the paper flowers reduced to shreds, at the gold- glazed
      "Shrovetide" sweetcake - a toy, brought back from the baths
      yesterday; gone are the little bears, gone are the little hills -
      vanished, the joy. And a joyous something begins to fuss in my
      heart; now everything is new, different. Now it'll be "the soul
      beginning" - Gorkin told me all about it yesterday. "It's time to
      ready the soul." To prepare for Communion, to keep the fast,
      to make ready for the Bright Day.

      "Send One-eye in to see me!" I hear Father's angry shouting.

      Father has not gone out on business; it's a special day today,
      very strict. Father rarely shouts. Something important has
      happened. But after all, he forgave the man for drinking; he
      cancelled all his sins; yesterday was the day of Forgiveness.
      And Vasil-Vasillich forgave us all too, that's exactly what he
      said in the dining room, kneeling: "I forgive you all!" So why is
      father shouting then?

      The door opens, Gorkin comes in with a gleaming copper basin.
      Oh, yes, to smoke out Lady Shrovetide! There's a hot brick in
      the basin, and mint, and they pour vinegar over them. My old
      nurse, Domnushka, follows Gorkin around and does the pouring;
      it hisses in the basin and a tart steam rises - a sacred steam.
      I can smell it even now, across the distance of the years.
      Sacred... that's what Gorkin calls it. He goes to all the corners
      and gently swirls the basin. And then he swirls it over me.

      "Get up dearie, don't pamper yourself," he speaks lovingly to me,
      sliding the basin under the skirt of the bed. "Where's she hid
      herself in your room, fat old Lady Shrovetide... We'll drive her out!

      Lent has arrived... We'll be going to the Lenten market, the choir
      from St. Basil's will be singing 'My soul, my soul arise;' you won't
      be able to tear yourself away."

      That unforgettable, that sacred smell. The smell of Great Lent. And
      Gorkin himself, completely special - as if he were kind of sacred too.
      Way before light, he had already gone to the bath, steamed himself
      thouroughly, put on everything clean. Clean Monday today! Only the
      kazakin is old; today only the most workaday clothes may be worn,
      that's "the law."

      And it's a sin to laugh, and you have to rub a bit of oil on your head,
      like Gorkin. He'll be eating without oil now, but you have to oil the
      head, it's the law, "for the prayer's sake." There's a glow about him,
      from his little grey beard, all silver really, from the neatly combed head.
      I know for a fact that he's a saint. They're like that, God's people, that
      please Him. And his face is pink, like a cherubim's, from the cleanness.
      I know that he's dried himself bits of black braed with salt, and all Lent
      long he'll take them with his tea, "instead of sugar."

      But why is Daddy angry... with Vasil-Vasillich, like that?

      "Oh, sinfulness..." says Gorkin with a sigh. "It's hard to break habits,
      and now everything is strict, Lent. And, well, they get angry. But you
      hold fast now, think about your soul. It's the season, all the same as if
      the latter days were come... that's the law! You just recite, "O Lord and
      Master of my life..." and be cheerful." And I begin silently reciting the
      recently memorized Lenten prayer.

      The rooms are quiet and deserted, full of that sacred smell. In the front
      room, before the reddish icon of the Crucifixion, a very old one, from our
      sainted great-grandmother who was an Old Believer; a "lenten" lampada
      of clear glass has been lit, and now it will burn unextinguished until Pascha.
      When Father lights it - on Saturdays he lights all the lampadas himself -
      he always sings softly, in a pleasant-sad way: "Before Thy Cross, we
      bow down, O Master," and I would sing softly after him, that wonderful
      refrain: "And Thy ho-ly.. Re-sur-re-e-ec-tion, we glo-ri-fy!" A
      joy-to-tears
      beats inside my soul, shining from these words. And I behold it, behind the
      long file of lenten days - the Holy Resurrection, in lights. A joyful
      little prayer!
      It casts a kindly beam of light upon these sad days of Lent.

      I begin to imagine that now the old life is coming to an end, and it's time
      to prepare for that other life, which will be... where? Somewhere, in the
      heavens. You have to cleanse the soul of all sinfulness, and that's why
      everything around you is different. And something special is at our side,
      invisible and fearful. Gorkin told me that now, "it's like when the soul is
      parting from the body." THEY keep watch, to snatch away the soul, and
      all the while the soul trembles and wails: "Woe is me, I am cursed!"
      They read about it in church now, at the Standings.

      "Because they can sense that their end is coming near, that Christ will rise!
      And that's why we're a-given Lent for, to keep close to church, to live to see
      the Bright Day. And not to reflect, you understand. About earthly things, do
      not reflect! And they'll be ringing everywhere: 'Think back!... Think
      back!..."
      He made the words boom inside him nicely.

      Throughout the house the window vents are open, and you can hear the
      mournful cry and summons of the bells, ringing before the services:
      think-back.. think-back. That's the piteous bell, crying for the soul. It's
      called the Lenten peal. They've taken the shutters down from the widows,
      and it'll be that way, poor-looking, clear until Pascha. In the drawing-room
      there are grey slip-covers on the furniture; the lamps are bundled up into
      cocoons, and even the one painting, "The Beauty at the Feast," is draped
      over with a sheet. That was the suggestion of His Eminence. Shook his
      head sadly and said: "A sinful and tempting picture!" But Father likes it
      a lot - such class! Also draped is the engraving which Father for some
      reason calls "the sweetcake one", it shows a little old man dancing, and
      an old woman hitting him with a broom. That one His Eminence liked a
      great deal, even laughed.

      All the housefolk are very serious, in workday clothes with patches, and
      I was told also to put on the jacket with the worn- through elbows. The
      rugs have been taken out; it's such a lark now to skate across the parquet.
      Only it's scary to try - Great Lent: skate hard and you'll break a leg.

      Not a crumb left over from Shrovetide, mustn't be so much as a trace of
      it in the air. Even the sturgeon in aspic was passed down to the kitchen
      yesterday. Only the very plainest dishes are left in the sideboard, the ones
      with the dun spots and the cracks... for Great Lent.

      In the front room there are bowls of yellow pickles, little umbrellas of dill
      sticking out of them, and chopped cabbage, tart and thickly dusted with
      anise - a delight. I grab pinches of it - how it crunches! And I vow to myself
      to eat only lenten foods for the duration of the fast. Why send my soul to
      perdition, since everything tastes so good anyway! There'll be stewed fruit,
      potato pancakes with prunes, "crosses" on the Week of the Cross... frozen
      cranberries with sugar, candied nuts... And what about roast buckwheat
      kasha with onions, washed down with kvass! And then lenten pasties with
      milk-mushrooms, and then buckwheat pancakes with onions on Saturdays...
      and the boiled wheat with marmalade on the first Saturday... and almond
      milk with white kissel, and the cranberry one with vanilla, and the grand
      kuliebiak on Annunciation... Can it be that THERE, where everyone goes
      to from this life, ther will be such lenten fare!

      And why is everyone so dull-looking? Why, everything is so... so different,
      and there is much, so much that is joyous. Today they'll bring the first
      ice and begin to line the cellars - the whole yard will be stacked with it.

      We'll go to the "Lenten Market," where I've never been... I begin jumping
      up and down with joy, but they stop me: "It's Lent, don't dare! Just wait
      and see, you'll break your leg!"

      Fear comes over me. I look at the Crucifixion. He suffers, the Son of God!
      But how is it that God... How did He allow it?... I have the sense that
      herein lies the great mystery itself - GOD.
    • Rev Fr Mark Gilstrap
      I know, I know, I ve posted this almost every year for the past 15 or so on the ORTHODOX list or here... But this year I bought a bag of Bulgarian spearmint
      Message 2 of 6 , Feb 23, 2004
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        I know, I know, I've posted this almost every year for the past 15
        or so on the ORTHODOX list or here... But this year I bought a bag
        of Bulgarian spearmint to go into the bowl! I can't even smell it
        through this cold I have though... but the kid's will remember.

        As the signs of winter and spring in animals' behaviour tell us
        something about the weather, so too it looks like this year we will
        need all the support we can find throughout Lent... and here in
        Oklahoma it's rainy, drip, drip...

        I hope this gladdens you at the beginning of this wonderful journey
        as much as it does us.

        I was quite taken by a posting to the synod clergy list yesterday
        wherein Fr Alexander gave the reason why we sing the Paschal
        Stichera ("Let God arise...") at Forgiveness Vespers during the
        ceremony of mutual forgiveness. This has always been our custom,
        taught us by Fr Constantine Pazalos (later + Hieromonk Kallistos -
        founder of Holy Cross Hermitage) who before his own departure also
        frequently said (quoting the fathers): Keep death before you and you
        will not sin.

        The Paschal Stichera (or else the Canons) are sung on Forgiveness
        Sunday for those who will not live to see Pascha. May we all use
        this time wisely to prepare for that eventuality even if isn't to
        come for Many Years.

        Begging you forgiveness.
        pr Mark

        Date: Mon, 10 Mar 1997 18:26:18 -0700
        Sender: Orthodox Christianity <ORTHODOX@...>
        Subject: Clean Monday

        "A Child's Lent Remembered"

        An excerpt from Ivan Shmelyov's "Anno Domini", a wistful
        recollection of life in his pious, old-fashioned, well-to-do home in
        pre-Revolutionary Moscow.

        translated from the Russian by Maria Belaeff and published
        in "Orthodox America", v5, #7, February 1985. Posted with
        permission of the editors.

        +++++++++++++++++++++++

        Clean Monday

        I waken from harsh light in my room: a bare kind of light,
        cold dismal. Yes, it's Great Lent today. The pink curtains, with
        their hunters and their ducks, have already been taken down while
        I slept, and that's why it's so bare and dismal in the room. It's
        Clean Monday today for us, and everything in our house is being
        scrubbed.

        Greyish weather, the thaw. The dripping beyond the window is
        like weeping. Our old carpenter - Gorkin, "the panel man" - said
        yesterday that when Lady Shrovetide leaves, she'll weep. And so
        she is - drip...drip...drip... There she goes!

        I look at the paper flowers reduced to shreds, at the gold-
        glazed "Shrovetide" sweetcake - a toy, brought back from the baths
        yesterday; gone are the little bears, gone are the little hills -
        vanished, the joy. And a joyous something begins to fuss in my
        heart; now everything is new, different. Now it'll be "the soul
        beginning" - Gorkin told me all about it yesterday. "It's time to
        ready the soul." To prepare for Communion, to keep the fast, to
        make ready for the Bright Day.

        "Send One-eye in to see me!" I hear Father's angry shouting.

        Father has not gone out on business; it's a special day today,
        very strict. Father rarely shouts. Something important has
        happened. But after all, he forgave the man for drinking; he
        cancelled all his sins; yesterday was the day of Forgiveness. And
        Vasil-Vasillich forgave us all too, that's exactly what he said in
        the dining room, kneeling: "I forgive you all!" So why is father
        shouting then?

        The door opens, Gorkin comes in with a gleaming copper basin.
        Oh, yes, to smoke out Lady Shrovetide! There's a hot brick in the
        basin, and mint, and they pour vinegar over them. My old nurse,
        Domnushka, follows Gorkin around and does the pouring; it hisses in
        the basin and a tart steam rises - a sacred steam. I can smell it
        even now, across the distance of the years. Sacred... that's what
        Gorkin calls it. He goes to all the corners and gently swirls the
        basin. And then he swirls it over me.

        "Get up dearie, don't pamper yourself," he speaks lovingly to
        me, sliding the basin under the skirt of the bed. "Where's she hid
        herself in your room, fat old Lady Shrovetide... We'll drive her
        out! Lent has arrived... We'll be going to the Lenten market, the
        choir from St. Basil's will be singing 'My soul, my soul arise;'
        you won't be able to tear yourself away."

        That unforgettable, that sacred smell. The smell of Great
        Lent. And Gorkin himself, completely special - as if he were kind
        of sacred too. Way before light, he had already gone to the bath,
        steamed himself thouroughly, put on everything clean. Clean Monday
        today! Only the kazakin is old; today only the most workaday
        clothes may be worn, that's "the law."

        And it's a sin to laugh, and you have to rub a bit of oil on
        your head, like Gorkin. He'll be eating without oil now, but you
        have to oil the head, it's the law, "for the prayer's sake."
        There's a glow about him, from his little grey beard, all silver
        really, from the neatly combed head. I know for a fact that he's
        a saint. They're like that, God's people, that please Him. And
        his face is pink, like a cherubim's, from the cleanness. I know
        that he's dried himself bits of black braed with salt, and all Lent
        long he'll take them with his tea, "instead of sugar."

        But why is Daddy angry... with Vasil-Vasillich, like that?

        "Oh, sinfulness..." says Gorkin with a sigh. "It's hard to
        break habits, and now everything is strict, Lent. And, well, they
        get angry. But you hold fast now, think about your soul. It's the
        season, all the same as if the latter days were come... that's the
        law! You just recite, "O Lord and Master of my life..." and be
        cheerful."

        And I begin silently reciting the recently memorized Lenten
        prayer.

        The rooms are quiet and deserted, full of that sacred smell.
        In the front room, before the reddish icon of the Crucifixion, a
        very old one, from our sainted great-grandmother who was an Old
        Believer; a "lenten" lampada of clear glass has been lit, and now
        it will burn unextinguished until Pascha. When Father lights it -
        on Saturdays he lights all the lampadas himself - he always sings
        softly, in a pleasant-sad way: "Before Thy Cross, we bow down, O
        Master," and I would sing softly after him, that wonderful refrain:

        "And Thy ho-ly.. Re-sur-re-e-ec-tion, we glo-ri-fy!"

        A joy-to-tears beats inside my soul, shining from these words.
        And I behold it, behind the long file of lenten days - the Holy
        Resurrection, in lights. A joyful little prayer! It casts a
        kindly beam of light upon these sad days of Lent.

        I begin to imagine that now the old life is coming to an end,
        and it's time to prepare for that other life, which will be...
        where? Somewhere, in the heavens. You have to cleanse the soul of
        all sinfulness, and that's why everything around you is different.
        And something special is at our side, invisible and fearful.
        Gorkin told me that now, "it's like when the soul is parting from
        the body." THEY keep watch, to snatch away the soul, and all the
        while the soul trembles and wails: "Woe is me, I am cursed!" They
        read about it in church now, at the Standings.

        "Because they can sense that their end is coming near, that
        Christ will rise! And that's why we're a-given Lent for, to keep
        close to church, to live to see the Bright Day. And not to
        reflect, you understand. About earthly things, do not reflect!
        And they'll be ringing everywhere: 'Think back!... Think back!..."
        He made the words boom inside him nicely.

        Throughout the house the window vents are open, and you can
        hear the mournful cry and summons of the bells, ringing before the
        services: think-back.. think-back. That's the piteous bell, crying
        for the soul. It's called the Lenten peal.

        They've taken the shutters down from the widows, and it'll be
        that way, poor-looking, clear until Pascha. In the drawing-room
        there are grey slip-covers on the furniture; the lamps are bundled
        up into cocoons, and even the one painting, "The Beauty at the
        Feast," is draped over with a sheet. That was the suggestion of
        His Eminence. Shook his head sadly and said: "A sinful and
        tempting picture!" But Father likes it a lot - such class! Also
        draped is the engraving which Father for some reason calls "the
        sweetcake one", it shows a little old man dancing, and an old woman
        hitting him with a broom. That one His Eminence liked a great
        deal, even laughed.

        All the housefolk are very serious, in workday clothes with
        patches, and I was told also to put on the jacket with the worn-
        through elbows. The rugs have been taken out; it's such a lark now
        to skate across the parquet. Only it's scary to try - Great Lent:
        skate hard and you'll break a leg. Not a crumb left over from
        Shrovetide, mustn't be so much as a trace of it in the air. Even
        the sturgeon in aspic was passed down to the kitchen yesterday.
        Only the very plainest dishes are left in the sideboard, the ones
        with the dun spots and the cracks... for Great Lent.

        In the front room there are bowls of yellow pickles, little
        umbrellas of dill sticking out of them, and chopped cabbage, tart
        and thickly dusted with anise - a delight. I grab pinches of it -
        how it crunches! And I vow to myself to eat only lenten foods for
        the duration of the fast. Why send my soul to perdition, since
        everything tastes so good anyway! There'll be stewed fruit, potato
        pancakes with prunes, "crosses" on the Week of the Cross... frozen
        cranberries with sugar, candied nuts... And what about roast
        buckwheat kasha with onions, washed down with kvass! And then
        lenten pasties with milk-mushrooms, and then buckwheat pancakes
        with onions on Saturdays... and the boiled wheat with marmalade on
        the first Saturday... and almond milk with white kissel, and the
        cranberry one with vanilla, and the grand kuliebiak on
        Annunciation... Can it be that THERE, where everyone goes to from
        this life, ther will be such lenten fare!

        And why is everyone so dull-looking? Why, everything is so...
        so different, and there is much, so much that is joyous. Today
        they'll bring the first ice and begin to line the cellars - the
        whole yard will be stacked with it. We'll go to the "Lenten
        Market," where I've never been... I begin jumping up and down with
        joy, but they stop me: "It's Lent, don't dare! Just wait and see,
        you'll break your leg!"

        Fear comes over me. I look at the Crucifixion. He suffers,
        the Son of God! But how is it that God... How did He allow it?...

        I have the sense that herein lies the great mystery itself -
        GOD.
      • Theodora Wright
        Bless Father have been waiting !!!! :-)))))))))) Sorta a tradition now. Thank you and a blessed Clean Monday to all Theodora in The Mountains
        Message 3 of 6 , Feb 23, 2004
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          Bless Father have been waiting !!!! :-)))))))))) Sorta a tradition now.
          Thank you and a blessed Clean Monday to all

          Theodora in The Mountains
        • Theodora Wright
          ... go
          Message 4 of 6 , Feb 17, 2007
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            > Subject: Clean Monday
            >
            >
            > >
            > > It's time to post this though I doubt very seriously that I will
            go
            > > outside and clean screens and windows and yards this time! Too
            > cold!
            > > We start so early this year that all I am doing is the inside and
            > > teaching hubby about Clean Monday :>)))))) To all I ask
            > forgiveness
            > > and want you all to know that I consider you all a gift . May God
            > > bless and keep all and may the Lord bless us with a fruitful Fast
            > and
            > > Joyous Feast to come.
            > >
            > > Theodora in The Mountains
            > >
            > > Subject: Clean Monday
            > >
            > >
            > > > http://jennelou.tripod.com/Update20050423/Pillow/index.html
            >
            >
            >
            >
            >
          • Rev Fr Mark Gilstrap
            http://roca.org/OA/47/47g.htm A Child s Lent Remembered An excerpt from Ivan Shmelyov s Anno Domini , a wistful recollection of life in his pious,
            Message 5 of 6 , Feb 18, 2007
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              http://roca.org/OA/47/47g.htm

              "A Child's Lent Remembered"

              An excerpt from Ivan Shmelyov's "Anno Domini", a wistful recollection
              of life in his pious, old-fashioned, well-to-do home in
              pre-Revolutionary Moscow.

              translated from the Russian by Maria Belaeff and published in
              "Orthodox America", v5, #7, February 1985. Posted with permission of
              the editors.

              +++++++++++++++++++++++

              Clean Monday

              I waken from harsh light in my room: a bare kind of light,
              cold dismal. Yes, it's Great Lent today. The pink curtains, with
              their hunters and their ducks, have already been taken down while
              I slept, and that's why it's so bare and dismal in the room. It's
              Clean Monday today for us, and everything in our house is being
              scrubbed.

              Greyish weather, the thaw. The dripping beyond the window is
              like weeping. Our old carpenter - Gorkin, "the panel man" - said
              yesterday that when Lady Shrovetide leaves, she'll weep. And so
              she is - drip...drip...drip... There she goes!

              I look at the paper flowers reduced to shreds, at the gold-
              glazed "Shrovetide" sweetcake - a toy, brought back from the baths
              yesterday; gone are the little bears, gone are the little hills -
              vanished, the joy. And a joyous something begins to fuss in my
              heart; now everything is new, different. Now it'll be "the soul
              beginning" - Gorkin told me all about it yesterday. "It's time to
              ready the soul." To prepare for Communion, to keep the fast, to
              make ready for the Bright Day.

              "Send One-eye in to see me!" I hear Father's angry shouting.

              Father has not gone out on business; it's a special day today,
              very strict. Father rarely shouts. Something important has
              happened. But after all, he forgave the man for drinking; he
              cancelled all his sins; yesterday was the day of Forgiveness. And
              Vasil-Vasillich forgave us all too, that's exactly what he said in
              the dining room, kneeling: "I forgive you all!" So why is father
              shouting then?

              The door opens, Gorkin comes in with a gleaming copper basin.
              Oh, yes, to smoke out Lady Shrovetide! There's a hot brick in the
              basin, and mint, and they pour vinegar over them. My old nurse,
              Domnushka, follows Gorkin around and does the pouring; it hisses in
              the basin and a tart steam rises - a sacred steam. I can smell it
              even now, across the distance of the years. Sacred... that's what
              Gorkin calls it. He goes to all the corners and gently swirls the
              basin. And then he swirls it over me.

              "Get up dearie, don't pamper yourself," he speaks lovingly to
              me, sliding the basin under the skirt of the bed. "Where's she hid
              herself in your room, fat old Lady Shrovetide... We'll drive her
              out! Lent has arrived... We'll be going to the Lenten market, the
              choir from St. Basil's will be singing 'My soul, my soul arise;'
              you won't be able to tear yourself away."

              That unforgettable, that sacred smell. The smell of Great
              Lent. And Gorkin himself, completely special - as if he were kind
              of sacred too. Way before light, he had already gone to the bath,
              steamed himself thouroughly, put on everything clean. Clean Monday
              today! Only the kazakin is old; today only the most workaday
              clothes may be worn, that's "the law."

              And it's a sin to laugh, and you have to rub a bit of oil on
              your head, like Gorkin. He'll be eating without oil now, but you
              have to oil the head, it's the law, "for the prayer's sake."
              There's a glow about him, from his little grey beard, all silver
              really, from the neatly combed head. I know for a fact that he's
              a saint. They're like that, God's people, that please Him. And
              his face is pink, like a cherubim's, from the cleanness. I know
              that he's dried himself bits of black braed with salt, and all Lent
              long he'll take them with his tea, "instead of sugar."

              But why is Daddy angry... with Vasil-Vasillich, like that?

              "Oh, sinfulness..." says Gorkin with a sigh. "It's hard to
              break habits, and now everything is strict, Lent. And, well, they
              get angry. But you hold fast now, think about your soul. It's the
              season, all the same as if the latter days were come... that's the
              law! You just recite, "O Lord and Master of my life..." and be
              cheerful."

              And I begin silently reciting the recently memorized Lenten
              prayer.

              The rooms are quiet and deserted, full of that sacred smell.
              In the front room, before the reddish icon of the Crucifixion, a
              very old one, from our sainted great-grandmother who was an Old
              Believer; a "lenten" lampada of clear glass has been lit, and now
              it will burn unextinguished until Pascha. When Father lights it -
              on Saturdays he lights all the lampadas himself - he always sings
              softly, in a pleasant-sad way: "Before Thy Cross, we bow down, O
              Master," and I would sing softly after him, that wonderful refrain:

              "And Thy ho-ly.. Re-sur-re-e-ec-tion, we glo-ri-fy!"

              A joy-to-tears beats inside my soul, shining from these words.
              And I behold it, behind the long file of lenten days - the Holy
              Resurrection, in lights. A joyful little prayer! It casts a
              kindly beam of light upon these sad days of Lent.

              I begin to imagine that now the old life is coming to an end,
              and it's time to prepare for that other life, which will be...
              where? Somewhere, in the heavens. You have to cleanse the soul of
              all sinfulness, and that's why everything around you is different.
              And something special is at our side, invisible and fearful.
              Gorkin told me that now, "it's like when the soul is parting from
              the body." THEY keep watch, to snatch away the soul, and all the
              while the soul trembles and wails: "Woe is me, I am cursed!" They
              read about it in church now, at the Standings.

              "Because they can sense that their end is coming near, that
              Christ will rise! And that's why we're a-given Lent for, to keep
              close to church, to live to see the Bright Day. And not to
              reflect, you understand. About earthly things, do not reflect!
              And they'll be ringing everywhere: 'Think back!... Think back!..."
              He made the words boom inside him nicely.

              Throughout the house the window vents are open, and you can
              hear the mournful cry and summons of the bells, ringing before the
              services: think-back.. think-back. That's the piteous bell, crying
              for the soul. It's called the Lenten peal.

              They've taken the shutters down from the widows, and it'll be
              that way, poor-looking, clear until Pascha. In the drawing-room
              there are grey slip-covers on the furniture; the lamps are bundled
              up into cocoons, and even the one painting, "The Beauty at the
              Feast," is draped over with a sheet. That was the suggestion of
              His Eminence. Shook his head sadly and said: "A sinful and
              tempting picture!" But Father likes it a lot - such class! Also
              draped is the engraving which Father for some reason calls "the
              sweetcake one", it shows a little old man dancing, and an old woman
              hitting him with a broom. That one His Eminence liked a great
              deal, even laughed.

              All the housefolk are very serious, in workday clothes with
              patches, and I was told also to put on the jacket with the worn-
              through elbows. The rugs have been taken out; it's such a lark now
              to skate across the parquet. Only it's scary to try - Great Lent:
              skate hard and you'll break a leg. Not a crumb left over from
              Shrovetide, mustn't be so much as a trace of it in the air. Even
              the sturgeon in aspic was passed down to the kitchen yesterday.
              Only the very plainest dishes are left in the sideboard, the ones
              with the dun spots and the cracks... for Great Lent.

              In the front room there are bowls of yellow pickles, little
              umbrellas of dill sticking out of them, and chopped cabbage, tart
              and thickly dusted with anise - a delight. I grab pinches of it -
              how it crunches! And I vow to myself to eat only lenten foods for
              the duration of the fast. Why send my soul to perdition, since
              everything tastes so good anyway! There'll be stewed fruit, potato
              pancakes with prunes, "crosses" on the Week of the Cross... frozen
              cranberries with sugar, candied nuts... And what about roast
              buckwheat kasha with onions, washed down with kvass! And then
              lenten pasties with milk-mushrooms, and then buckwheat pancakes
              with onions on Saturdays... and the boiled wheat with marmalade on
              the first Saturday... and almond milk with white kissel, and the
              cranberry one with vanilla, and the grand kuliebiak on
              Annunciation... Can it be that THERE, where everyone goes to from
              this life, ther will be such lenten fare!

              And why is everyone so dull-looking? Why, everything is so...
              so different, and there is much, so much that is joyous. Today
              they'll bring the first ice and begin to line the cellars - the
              whole yard will be stacked with it. We'll go to the "Lenten
              Market," where I've never been... I begin jumping up and down with
              joy, but they stop me: "It's Lent, don't dare! Just wait and see,
              you'll break your leg!"

              Fear comes over me. I look at the Crucifixion. He suffers,
              the Son of God! But how is it that God... How did He allow it?...

              I have the sense that herein lies the great mystery itself -
              GOD.
            • Fr Mark Gilstrap
              http://roca.org/OA/47/47g.htm A Child s Lent Remembered An excerpt from Ivan Shmelyov s Anno Domini , a wistful recollection of life in his pious,
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                http://roca.org/OA/47/47g.htm

                "A Child's Lent Remembered"

                An excerpt from Ivan Shmelyov's "Anno Domini", a wistful recollection of
                life in his pious, old-fashioned, well-to-do home in pre-Revolutionary
                Moscow.

                translated from the Russian by Maria Belaeff and published in "Orthodox
                America", v5, #7, February 1985. Posted with permission of the editors.

                +++++++++++++++++++++++

                Clean Monday

                I waken from harsh light in my room: a bare kind of light,
                cold dismal. Yes, it's Great Lent today. The pink curtains, with
                their hunters and their ducks, have already been taken down while
                I slept, and that's why it's so bare and dismal in the room. It's
                Clean Monday today for us, and everything in our house is being
                scrubbed.

                Greyish weather, the thaw. The dripping beyond the window is
                like weeping. Our old carpenter - Gorkin, "the panel man" - said
                yesterday that when Lady Shrovetide leaves, she'll weep. And so
                she is - drip...drip...drip... There she goes!

                I look at the paper flowers reduced to shreds, at the gold-
                glazed "Shrovetide" sweetcake - a toy, brought back from the baths
                yesterday; gone are the little bears, gone are the little hills -
                vanished, the joy. And a joyous something begins to fuss in my
                heart; now everything is new, different. Now it'll be "the soul
                beginning" - Gorkin told me all about it yesterday. "It's time to
                ready the soul." To prepare for Communion, to keep the fast, to
                make ready for the Bright Day.

                "Send One-eye in to see me!" I hear Father's angry shouting.

                Father has not gone out on business; it's a special day today,
                very strict. Father rarely shouts. Something important has
                happened. But after all, he forgave the man for drinking; he
                cancelled all his sins; yesterday was the day of Forgiveness. And
                Vasil-Vasillich forgave us all too, that's exactly what he said in
                the dining room, kneeling: "I forgive you all!" So why is father
                shouting then?

                The door opens, Gorkin comes in with a gleaming copper basin.
                Oh, yes, to smoke out Lady Shrovetide! There's a hot brick in the
                basin, and mint, and they pour vinegar over them. My old nurse,
                Domnushka, follows Gorkin around and does the pouring; it hisses in
                the basin and a tart steam rises - a sacred steam. I can smell it
                even now, across the distance of the years. Sacred... that's what
                Gorkin calls it. He goes to all the corners and gently swirls the
                basin. And then he swirls it over me.

                "Get up dearie, don't pamper yourself," he speaks lovingly to
                me, sliding the basin under the skirt of the bed. "Where's she hid
                herself in your room, fat old Lady Shrovetide... We'll drive her
                out! Lent has arrived... We'll be going to the Lenten market, the
                choir from St. Basil's will be singing 'My soul, my soul arise;'
                you won't be able to tear yourself away."

                That unforgettable, that sacred smell. The smell of Great
                Lent. And Gorkin himself, completely special - as if he were kind
                of sacred too. Way before light, he had already gone to the bath,
                steamed himself thouroughly, put on everything clean. Clean Monday
                today! Only the kazakin is old; today only the most workaday
                clothes may be worn, that's "the law."

                And it's a sin to laugh, and you have to rub a bit of oil on
                your head, like Gorkin. He'll be eating without oil now, but you
                have to oil the head, it's the law, "for the prayer's sake."
                There's a glow about him, from his little grey beard, all silver
                really, from the neatly combed head. I know for a fact that he's
                a saint. They're like that, God's people, that please Him. And
                his face is pink, like a cherubim's, from the cleanness. I know
                that he's dried himself bits of black braed with salt, and all Lent
                long he'll take them with his tea, "instead of sugar."

                But why is Daddy angry... with Vasil-Vasillich, like that?

                "Oh, sinfulness..." says Gorkin with a sigh. "It's hard to
                break habits, and now everything is strict, Lent. And, well, they
                get angry. But you hold fast now, think about your soul. It's the
                season, all the same as if the latter days were come... that's the
                law! You just recite, "O Lord and Master of my life..." and be
                cheerful."

                And I begin silently reciting the recently memorized Lenten
                prayer.

                The rooms are quiet and deserted, full of that sacred smell.
                In the front room, before the reddish icon of the Crucifixion, a
                very old one, from our sainted great-grandmother who was an Old
                Believer; a "lenten" lampada of clear glass has been lit, and now
                it will burn unextinguished until Pascha. When Father lights it -
                on Saturdays he lights all the lampadas himself - he always sings
                softly, in a pleasant-sad way: "Before Thy Cross, we bow down, O
                Master," and I would sing softly after him, that wonderful refrain:

                "And Thy ho-ly.. Re-sur-re-e-ec-tion, we glo-ri-fy!"

                A joy-to-tears beats inside my soul, shining from these words.
                And I behold it, behind the long file of lenten days - the Holy
                Resurrection, in lights. A joyful little prayer! It casts a
                kindly beam of light upon these sad days of Lent.

                I begin to imagine that now the old life is coming to an end,
                and it's time to prepare for that other life, which will be...
                where? Somewhere, in the heavens. You have to cleanse the soul of
                all sinfulness, and that's why everything around you is different.
                And something special is at our side, invisible and fearful.
                Gorkin told me that now, "it's like when the soul is parting from
                the body." THEY keep watch, to snatch away the soul, and all the
                while the soul trembles and wails: "Woe is me, I am cursed!" They
                read about it in church now, at the Standings.

                "Because they can sense that their end is coming near, that
                Christ will rise! And that's why we're a-given Lent for, to keep
                close to church, to live to see the Bright Day. And not to
                reflect, you understand. About earthly things, do not reflect!
                And they'll be ringing everywhere: 'Think back!... Think back!..."
                He made the words boom inside him nicely.

                Throughout the house the window vents are open, and you can
                hear the mournful cry and summons of the bells, ringing before the
                services: think-back.. think-back. That's the piteous bell, crying
                for the soul. It's called the Lenten peal.

                They've taken the shutters down from the widows, and it'll be
                that way, poor-looking, clear until Pascha. In the drawing-room
                there are grey slip-covers on the furniture; the lamps are bundled
                up into cocoons, and even the one painting, "The Beauty at the
                Feast," is draped over with a sheet. That was the suggestion of
                His Eminence. Shook his head sadly and said: "A sinful and
                tempting picture!" But Father likes it a lot - such class! Also
                draped is the engraving which Father for some reason calls "the
                sweetcake one", it shows a little old man dancing, and an old woman
                hitting him with a broom. That one His Eminence liked a great
                deal, even laughed.

                All the housefolk are very serious, in workday clothes with
                patches, and I was told also to put on the jacket with the worn-
                through elbows. The rugs have been taken out; it's such a lark now
                to skate across the parquet. Only it's scary to try - Great Lent:
                skate hard and you'll break a leg. Not a crumb left over from
                Shrovetide, mustn't be so much as a trace of it in the air. Even
                the sturgeon in aspic was passed down to the kitchen yesterday.
                Only the very plainest dishes are left in the sideboard, the ones
                with the dun spots and the cracks... for Great Lent.

                In the front room there are bowls of yellow pickles, little
                umbrellas of dill sticking out of them, and chopped cabbage, tart
                and thickly dusted with anise - a delight. I grab pinches of it -
                how it crunches! And I vow to myself to eat only lenten foods for
                the duration of the fast. Why send my soul to perdition, since
                everything tastes so good anyway! There'll be stewed fruit, potato
                pancakes with prunes, "crosses" on the Week of the Cross... frozen
                cranberries with sugar, candied nuts... And what about roast
                buckwheat kasha with onions, washed down with kvass! And then
                lenten pasties with milk-mushrooms, and then buckwheat pancakes
                with onions on Saturdays... and the boiled wheat with marmalade on
                the first Saturday... and almond milk with white kissel, and the
                cranberry one with vanilla, and the grand kuliebiak on
                Annunciation... Can it be that THERE, where everyone goes to from
                this life, ther will be such lenten fare!

                And why is everyone so dull-looking? Why, everything is so...
                so different, and there is much, so much that is joyous. Today
                they'll bring the first ice and begin to line the cellars - the
                whole yard will be stacked with it. We'll go to the "Lenten
                Market," where I've never been... I begin jumping up and down with
                joy, but they stop me: "It's Lent, don't dare! Just wait and see,
                you'll break your leg!"

                Fear comes over me. I look at the Crucifixion. He suffers,
                the Son of God! But how is it that God... How did He allow it?...

                I have the sense that herein lies the great mystery itself -
                GOD.
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