Great lent is a time of repentance and forgiveness. Repentance at the root is a change of the mind and body. We have grown accustomed to thinking that repentance is feeling bad for our actions and that we need to be punished in order to revert back on the right path. This is a good thought if we were still 12 years old. We must see repentance as a renewal and change back into the communion of God. Sin is a breaking away from God. It is a separation in which we must find our way back to the love of God. Yes there will be days when we skip the fast, missed our prayers or become angry with others however, the only way to correct our actions and thoughts is by uniting to the body of Christ through the renewal and change of mind, body and spirit. True life and true repentance will only come once we realize that we have lost communion with God and through Him we can be made whole through the Eucharist.
The following is an excellent quote from Fr. Schmemanns book Great Lent. I recommend this read during this time period. If you are interesting in reading any of the ancient fathers I would recommend St. Athanasius On the Incarnation.
Repentance is often simply identified as a cool and "objective" enumeration of sins and transgressions, as the act of "pleading guilty" to a legal indictment. Confession and absolution are seen as being of a juridical nature. But something very essential is overlooked--without which neither confession nor absolution have any real meaning of power. This "something" is precisely the feeling of alienation from God, from the joy of communion with Him, from the real life as created and given by God. It is easy indeed to confess that I have not fasted on prescribed days, or missed my prayers, or become angry. It is quite a different thing, however, to realize suddenly that I have defiled and lost my spiritual beauty, that I am far away from my real home, my real life, and that something precious and pure and beautiful has been hopelessly broken in the very texture of my existence. Yet this, and only this, is repentance, and therefore it is also a deep desire to return, to go back, to recover that lost home. Fr. Alexander Schmemann, Great Lent
The following is a prayer of St. Ephrem which is recited during the Great Lent. This prayer serves as a reminder that we are constantly being formed and united into the body of Christ as we grow in love and service for others.
O Lord and Master of my life, take from me spirit of sloth, despair, lust of power, and idle talk.
But give rather the spirit of chastity, humility, patience, and love to thy servant.
Yea, O Lord and King, grant me to see my own transgressions, and not to judge my brother, for blessed art Thou, unto ages of ages Amen.
The following is a link to an earlier entry on fasting. May God bless you all on our journey through the Lenten season.