On Lent.

I realize that I’m posting this a bit late, but I just thought about it in the last couple of days, so better late than never, right?

I’ve mentioned here that I grew up Catholic, but I’ve been Protestant now for 11 years (and periodically attended a Christian church for the 4 years that Matt and I were dating prior to that). I’m not anti-Catholic, but I am very much happy to be where I am, learning what I am, and raising my children this way.

Something that I miss about Catholicism is the practice of Lent. For reasons that I can only hypothesize (or probably Google) about, most Protestant churches don’t practice Lent.

Growing up, I definitely did not look forward to Lent. Giving up things I love? Yeah, no thanks. I was cool with doing extra things (almsgiving) during Lent (going to church more, volunteering more time, etc.) but definitely didn’t dig the fasting and doing without something I love. I was taught the “why”, but it just didn’t truly sink in for me.

Now, though, I get it. And I’m ready to teach my kids about Lent, even though our church doesn’t participate. I’m not reverting entirely to the way that Catholicism practices Lent, as I don’t think it’s a sin to eat meat on Fridays. I’m not a theologian, but that’s my two cents.

Lent is about reflection and repentance and being honest with yourself about where your heart is. Where your attention is focused. If sacrificing something you love for 40 days doesn’t make you into a hateful, difficult-to-be-around person, and instead helps you focus on Christ and be a witness to others, then I think it’s a good thing to do for Lent. If it does make you into a hateful, difficult-to-be-around person, what kind of witness are you for your faith? If doing something extra, be it giving of your time or money, helps you focus on Christ, then I think it works, too.

Obviously, these are just my thoughts, and this might not jive well with all of you, but there it is. I’m going to give this a go again for the first time in at least 10 years, and I believe it’s going to involve not drinking soda (something that I’ve already cut back on significantly, but is still a treat) so pray for me.

11 responses to “On Lent.

  1. Good thoughts.

    Good for you on the soda pop; I’m struggling w/ how addicted I’ve become again after a long hiatus a few years ago. As everyone knows, I don’t do well w/ moderation in anything.

  2. A friend of mine shared an experience she had with her daughter. Mom was explaining Ash Wednesday and her young daughter went to school and enthusiastically told her teacher, “This is a special day and Mommy’s going to church to get asses on her forehead.” Yes, this Catholic faith is darn confusing!

  3. I remember dreading having to even think of giving up something like ice cream or TV, but now I’m totally with you on the whole reflection of why I’m doing such things. Although I don’t think I have given up ice cream for Lent for about 10 years now since I’ve realized on my own that I can’t have it for dessert every night if I want to maintain my girlish figure.

  4. I’ve never been a part of a church that wholly participated in Lent, but rather it was always touched on and explained in theory and thought of as an individual thing… if there’s something God has laid on your heart that’s getting in the way of your relationship with Him or something that you feel you want to abstain from for this season so that you can spend that time and energy focusing on Him or a habit of something that you can use to be a reminder to use meditating on His Sacrifice as a distraction, then by all means, go for it!
    I tend to do some years and others not.
    I was really looking for something this year… something that would be a bit of a struggle for me to stretch me and remind me to spend time in the word or in prayer, but I was also trying to think along the lines of something that somehow benefited something outside of my own little world. I actually came across the perfect thing: the blood:water mission had the suggestion of giving up all beverages but water for this season of Lent; foregoing the sodas and the juices and the alcohol and sticking with only water. And then donating the money that would have been spent on Starbucks and few iced teas and a few gallons of milk to provide clean drinking water in Africa. Love that.
    I ended up not really committing to this because we have a few guests and trips in the next couple of months and I just knew that I’d end up not with the right heart about not being able to join in special occasion beverages. So I’m still rummaging my brain for something else that feels right to me this year. I know, I’m late!
    Anyway, your soda abstinence reminded me of this.
    Another fabulous idea I saw somewhere was a church body committing to giving up their regular evening meals and instead partook in only a meager helping of beans and rice each night… the meal that the orphanage the church sponsored served to it’s children each day. The money saved on groceries or eating out for those forty days was urged to be donated to said orphanage… to help better their meals and nutrition, and the daily reminder of eating that way was to also be a reminder of prayer for the children and staff there.
    I love ideas like that!

    (sorry for the novel!)

  5. Nicole,

    Nice blog. Google Reader suggested it for me and I guess for once, it picked a winner.

    Any way, I am Catholic but I don’t subscribe to the notion that violating a rule established by humans (like eating meat on Friday) is a sin. For me, abstaining from meat on Fridays during Lent is just another way to more fully cleanse the soul. It is not so much that I find some nexus between meat and righteousness, but mostly another reminder throughout the week of the Lenten journey.

    Good luck to you these 40 days.

  6. i definitely don’t remember looking forward to lent when i was growing up but i love it now. i know this will make you gag but i look forward to eating seafood every friday. i’ve done the give up/add on thing for the past few years. this year i’m giving up desserts and adding on an extra morning of church. the hardest thing i ever gave up was alcohol. when you marry into an irish family, st. patrick’s day is not a time to be abstaining:)
    kenny wanted me to add that he likes lent (but i have to note that when i suggested giving up his video games, that idea was shot down immediately).

  7. Our ministerial alliance comes together each Lenten season and for community services each Sunday night- it is my favorite time of the year! It’s at a different church each week, with a different pastor preaching (and not the pastor of the church hosting). I will miss this about this community.

    And a friend of Kurt’s is doing something really neat this year- he is organizing a ministry encouraging people to read the Bible in 40 days (it averages out to an hour a day for an average reader). Each day he is having a different pastor do a flip video explaining their thoughts on that day’s reading. So instead of giving up something to eat or drink, he is encouraging people to give up an hour of their day and read. I REALLY like this idea, but I think it is something I will wait to do until after my kids are not all under the age of 5! 🙂

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