Next Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent 2012 in the Roman Catholic Church. But for Catholics of the various Eastern rites, Lent will begin two days earlier, on Clean Monday.
Clean Monday is a reminder that we should begin Lent with good intentions and a desire to clean our spiritual house. It is a day of strict fasting for Eastern Catholics, including abstinence not only from meat but from eggs and dairy products as well. On Clean Monday and throughout Great Lent, Eastern Catholics frequently pray the Prayer of St. Ephrem the Syrian.