Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent.
It is interesting to me that so many people seem to observe Lent (or at least the fasting part of it), even those who don’t generally practice other religious disciplines or rituals. In our consumer world, self-denial is completely counter-cultural. Maybe there is a way that fasting during Lent meets a yearning we have for freedom from the many addictions, escapes, and distractions around us.
I have never observed Lent before. Though I grew up going to church, Lent was not one of the traditions practiced with my family or church community. In the past few years, I wanted to observe Lent, but seemed to keep missing it by a few days. I would discover that it was Lent when it was already partway into the period, and by then it just seemed too late to begin.
This year, I finally remembered Lent in time. I am fasting from dessert and alcohol. Call me crazy, but I figured that if I’m going to practice the art of self-denial, why not go the full measure. I am a relatively disciplined person, but after only one day I can already feel the loss.
I am dreaming about the chocolate and red wine fest I am going to throw myself on Easter. If that doesn’t sound like a good way to celebrate Jesus, I don’t know what is.
What are you giving up for Lent?
11 thoughts on “Thoughts On Lent”
I am giving up most of my time from social networking. Yep! Minimal posting just scripture and encouraging words. So what am I gonna do with that time? Bible study and reflecting on what the Lord wants to reveal to me. You can do Larissa!
When I studied in Italy I got into this whole Lent craze. I gave up gelato, which was really hard. I cheated.
I decided to give up coffee. I can still start my day with some jasmine tea and I don't like the idea dependency or unnatural surges of adrenaline. But I LOVE coffee. I heard you can cheat on Sundays, is this true?
Maybe we do this so that we learn to appreciate things we love even more.
Like last year I'm giving up French Fries. I'm on the run a lot so fast food is easy, and it's become too much a part of my diet. By giving up French Fries fast food becomes less desirable and hopefully I will find better options.
Plus I really like French Fries even though I know how unhealthy they are so it'll be good to go without them for awhile.
Emily, it IS true you can cheat on Sunday. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lent Look under “duration.” This has also been confirmed by my husbands aunt, who is a nun. I just heard about this 2 years ago after lent. Somehow this detail has slipped under the radar all these years!
Wow, good luck! I know you can do it. There's a fasting for a month involved in my religion and I definitely survive a month without alcohol. You can too!:)
Thanks, Aunty Julee. See also, the last paragraph under http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lent#Fasting_and_abstinence.
“Cheating” sounds so … sinister and not Christ-like. But it's not cheating if it's permitted. In this case, it's joining the celebration of Jesus' victory over sin and death. Yay, Jesus!
I love your point about a freedom from addictions and distractions… I think many habits are so engrained and “habitual” that we don't realize our own addictions until something like Lent brings to the surface the way we turn to food or entertainment or whatever when we're stressed or yearning to escape.
I will say, however, that I think a lot of people adhere to some sort of fasting ritual during Lent for purely selfish reasons (aka… I want to lose wait and now I suddenly have a world-wide community that is dieting with me).
I've always seen Lent as an opportunity to grow deeper in a relationship with Christ by re-focussing your life and clearing out distractions. Because of that, I think Lent can also be practiced by “adding something” positive to your life rather than “giving something up.” Por ejemplo…, this year I've decided my quiet times have been suffering of late, so I've committed to reading 2 Chapters of the Bible every day. Although, for many reasons, I may also give up Facebook for the rest of Lent.
So long as the end goal is a deeper dependence on God, I think the 'additive' or 'subtractive' approach to Lent are both valid ways to carry your Cross and follow Christ down the long road to victory.
Everyone – I had no idea about the Sunday respite from fasting. I love that it functions as a small taste of Easter.
Jax – That sounds like a great way to approach Lent.
I love that so many people practice fasting during this season, it really is a great way to motivate and/or leave bad habits behind. It took me a while to figure out what I was giving up, but I finally chose fasting from throwing out food. It may sound odd, but I've been meaning to compost for a while and now is the perfect timing.
Meat. My friends tease me about Lent, but I like to give up something every year. I used to always do sweets, sometimes I did swearing. This year it's meat.
Hope you are enjoying the taste of chocolate and red wine 🙂