Wednesday, March 1, 2006

Turn away from sin...

...and be faithful to the Gospel.

Or, put another way, give up what separates you from God, and put your trust in your Christian community, Jesus' cross, and his new creation.

As we all hopefully are aware, the penitential season of Lent begins today, Ash Wednesday, this year March 1.

The season of Lent is closely connected with the transition from Winter to Spring, the name itself coming from an Anglo-Saxon word lecten meaning springtime. Lent is also a period of preparation for Baptism (and other initiation sacraments) in the Catholic Church, celebrated at the Easter Vigil liturgy. It has a length of 40 days, modeling Jesus' fast in the desert as well as other prominent old testament 40's (Moses, Elijah, and others).

We'd like to take a moment to offer a few suggestions on ways to celebrate (yes, celebrate, albeit in a somber way) Lent as a time of transition and preparation in our own lives.

Fasting and abstinence from meat (on Fridays) has long been a tradition in the Church. Self-denial promotes self-discipline in one's faith. It also allows one to give to the poor and hungry what one has denied to self. Perhaps take some time during Lent, especially on days of abstinence to make donations to food pantries or homeless shelters.

Many of us come from a tradition too of "giving up" something for lent, another form of self denial, be it chocolates, TV, soda, or the like. Perhaps consider giving up something a little less tangible, and something that doing away with will improve your life: give away your angers, your judgmental attitudes, or your fears and anxieties. Perhaps even give away some of your security, as any sort of growth is difficult in a place of comfort.

One last, important, suggestion: take some time to explore what your church or (secular) community has to offer over the next six weeks. Being a part of one's community, however it is defined, is vital to an understanding of faith and our place in God's creation.

Welcome Lent this year with an attitude of progress and change, and the season will become for you that very time of growth. Let this be our common prayer for one another this coming season.

In Christ,
Shannon and Orin

PS - some of the info in this post came from a book titled "Catholic
Customs and Traditions" by Greg Dues, published by Twenty-Third
Publications, (c) 1992

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