Learning about Lent

My church is currently observing Lent – a season of spiritual discipline that leads up to Easter. We are encouraged to “give up” something during this time, apparently as a way to relate to the 40 days of temptation that Christ endured.

Although the denomination that I grew up in didn’t observe Lent, fasting and other forms of self-denial were commonplace. Regardless, the idea of denying myself something for an extended period of time every year feels both foreign and compelling.

I guess I like the idea more for carnal reasons than spiritual ones. I think it’s good to practice forms of self-discipline, whether that means pushing away the plate or turning off the television. Even so, in the four years that I’ve been attending my church, I have yet to participate in this tradition.

I think the main problem is that I can’t decide what to give up. Most of the things that people commonly abstain from seem downright silly. Surely giving up chocolate or soft drinks doesn’t really give one a deeper understanding of Jesus’ suffering, but I can appreciate how difficult it is to choose something meaningful.

Ash Wednesday, the traditional start of Lent, was last week, but I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to abstain from. Maybe my hesitancy is evidence that I don’t want to give up anything, because deep down, I really don’t. I don’t want to stop checking Facebook every ten minutes. I don’t want to quit Dr. Pepper, or stop watching “Big Love,” or order a salad instead of french fries.

But I guess that’s the point. Jesus went through hell in order to enlighten the world and save humanity. Surely I can give up something I really like for a few days.

Author: Brian

Blogger. Bookworm. Michael Jackson fanatic. Lives in Kentucky with partner of 12 years and three fabulous felines.

6 thoughts on “Learning about Lent”

  1. Being a life-long Catholic, it was almost always candy that I gave up or chocolate or something of the like. This year, I am an aide in my son’s religious education class. We has a Lenten Reflection one Sunday afternoon and we were given this prayer: this prayer

    I am trying to follow it myself.

  2. It was supposed to be a link to my blog ;) Here it is:

    A Lenten Prayer:

    Help me Jesus during Lent to think more often how I can…

    1. … fast from judging others; feast on Christ in them.
    2. … fast from wanting more; feast on being thankful.
    3. … fast from anger; feast on patience and forgiveness.
    4. … fast from not wanting to help mom & dad; Feast on saying “yes” to them.
    5. … fast from watching to and video games; feast on praying more often.
    6. … fast from thinking about myself; feast on caring for others.
    7. … fast from discouragement; feast on hope.
    8. … fast from gossip; feast on silence.
    9. … fast from fighting; feast on peace.
    10. … fast from unkind acts; feast on being nice.

    You spent 40 days in the desert being tempted by Satan. Help me be strong today.

  3. Good prayer…
    My whole focus this season is basically point #1 in the prayer… and to simplify and fast from complexity and the pressure of religious obligation, so I only have one focus instead of several.

  4. I’m a total slacker and never manage to pick anything either, although I jokingly say I gave up brussel sprouts, or ironing. In the past few years I have discovered that each Sunday during lent is a mini-Easter, during which time you can partake of what you have given up. Makes the thought a little easier.

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