The Church offers us five Sundays that help us enter the frame of mind we need for the "joy-creating sorrow" of the Great Lent:
Our Holy Fathers appointed this commemoration before the beginning of the Great Lent to demonstrate how beneficial the medicine of fasting is to human nature and how shameful are gluttony and disobedience ... We should know that today we ask for forgiveness from our brothers and sisters in Christ so that we may begin the race in the stadium of Great Lent unhindered by any animosity. As long as we live self-centered lives, we cannot forgive our neighbor—our ego will not allow it. Once our lives are God-centered, however, we are able to forgive others as God forgives us. Let us remember that God's mercy and forgiveness to us is often hidden in our mercy and forgiveness to others. Our Lenten journey is not an isolated or individual affair but a "family" event. Therefore we are reminded in today's reading from the Holy Gospel that unless there is mutual forgiveness between one another, there can be no true reconciliation with God.
Excerpted from the Synaxarion of the Lenten Triodion and Pentecostarion.
From the services of the Lenten Triodion for this day:
The Lord my Creator took me as dust from the earth and formed me into a living creature, breathing into me the breath of life and giving me a soul; He honoured me, setting me as ruler upon earth over all things visible, and making me companion of the angels...
In my wretchedness I have cast off the robe woven by God, disobeying Thy divine command, O Lord, at the counsel of the enemy; and I am clothed now in fig leaves and in garments of skin. I am condemned to eat the bread of toil in the sweat of my brow, and the earth has been cursed so that it bears thorns and thistles for me. But, Lord, who in the last times wast made flesh of a Virgin, call me back again and bring me into Paradise.
If then we long to dwell in Paradise, let us abstain from all needless food; and if we desire to see God, let us like Moses fast for forty days. With sincerity let us persevere in prayer and intercession; let us still the passions of our soul; let us subdue the rebellious instincts of the flesh. With light step let us set out upon the path to heaven, where the choirs of angels with never-silent voice sing the praises of the undivided Trinity; and there we shall behold the surpassing beauty of the Master. O Son of God, Giver of Life, in Thee we set our hope: count us worthy of a place there with the angelic hosts, at the intercessions of the Mother who bore Thee, O Christ, of the apostles and the martyrs and of all the saints.