Lent

22 02 2012

According to Wikipedia, “Lent (Latin: Quadragesima, “fortieth”) is the Christian observance of the liturgical year from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday.  The traditional purpose of Lent is the penitential preparation of the believer—through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving, and self-denial. Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the Death and Resurrection of Jesus.”

Having grown up Catholic, Lent was a major part of our religious year.  I always understood it to be the 40 days before Easter.  I also knew we had to “give something up” during Lent, like meat on Fridays.  However, we could eat fish.  I never got that.  Isn’t fish a meat?  I despise seafood of any kind.  Every year I argued with my mom, “Jesus and his disciples ate a lot of fish.  Wouldn’t it be more of a sacrifice to give up fish and eat hamburger?”  My mom couldn’t stand this annual squabble, but I digress.

I also understood Lent was to be a time of personal sacrifice, a time to remember the ultimate sacrifice Jesus offered us:  His death so that we may have life.

I’ve never taken Lent very seriously, though.  Not until this year.  While Lent is just beginning, I feel a longing in my soul to treat this year’s Lent very differently—to consider it earnestly and do something meaningful.  I’ve been reflecting on just what for about a week now, and I’ve come up with some ideas.

  1. As a family, we are going to give up TV and reading during dinner.  This has been a struggle of ours for years.  I know well the importance of family meals, but we always have the TV on, usually tuned in to such wholesome family shows as The Simpsons or King of the Hill.  I almost always have a magazine in front of me while eating.  To say the least, this really will be a sacrifice and a challenge for all of us, but I look forward to having more meaningful conversations with my family.
  2. Along with #1, as a family, we are going to read one chapter from the Bible each night after dinner.  We’ll probably start with one of the gospels.
  3. Caleb has decided to give up playing any electronic game—either on the computer or his DS—on Saturdays throughout Lent.  We already make him earn game time through reading or running, but the kid loves his DS.  I’m curious and excited to see how this goes for Caleb, this being his first official Lenten sacrifice.
  4. On Jason’s behalf, since he is only three-almost-four, I have come up with his sacrifices.  He will give up tantrums and being disobedient.  He will obey immediately with a cheerful “yes ma’am” the first I ask him to do something.  We shall see how this goes.
  5. Matthew will spend time in prayer every morning.  I like that.  Short and sweet, yet the blessings of this simple act are infinite.
  6. I have thought of many things I could do:  give up sweets, journal about the ways I have been forgiven, or fast a second day each week.Giving up sweets completely will not work.  I’ve tried this one in the past, and I won’t make it past day one.  I am incredibly disciplined in many areas of my life, but sugar, chocolate, and baked goods are not some of them.  I then thought about giving up multiple sweets and limiting myself to just one dessert each day.  That sacrifice might last two days.

    As for adding a second day each week to fast, I just don’t think it’s practical at this time in my life.  I’ve got four triathlons on my calendar this year, the first on April 1.  Another day of fasting each week would make my training really difficult.

    Initially, I didn’t think much of the journaling idea.  I didn’t think it would be enough of a sacrifice or challenge for me.  Thinking about this more, I realize this is just the thing I need to do.  Each day, for the next 40 days, whether I spend two minutes or two hours, I’m going to journal about the ways I have been forgiven over the years by God and by man.  I’m eager to see what God reveals to me through this experience.

How are you going to celebrate Lent this year?  What personal indulgence are you going to surrender?  What new discipline will you take on?  How will you choose to remember the sacrifice Christ made for you?

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2 responses

23 02 2012
What is your Focus this Lent? « An American Point of View

[…] Lent (tokickapigeon.wordpress.com) […]

10 04 2012
40 Days of Forgiveness « To Kick a Pigeon and Other Musings

[…] the beginning of Lent this year, I decided to journal each day about ways I have been forgiven.  Here is what God […]

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