February 16, 2010

on Lent

Today is Fat Tuesday, which means that tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the season of Lent. Growing up, I can't say that I understood what I should do during Lent, and even more importantly, why I should be doing it. Since Lent isn't mentioned in the Bible, Christians aren't required to observe this season of fasting and self-reflection, but it is a custom handed down from the early church that we can take part in and benefit from today.

Here's a helpful essay by Craig Higgins on the why and how of Lent observance. From Higgins:
Even though a repentant spirit should mark all we do, it is still appropriate that certain times be set aside for a particular focus on repentance. The church has traditionally done this at the Lenten season...

Lent, therefore, is a time for focusing on the heart, a time for asking questions about our spiritual health:
  • What are my characteristic sins, and how can I work and pray for change?
  • What idols have captured my imagination so that my love for the living God has grown cold?
  • In what ways is my devotion to Christ and his church less than wholehearted?
The Lenten season is the spiritual equivalent of an annual physical exam; it’s a time to take stock of our lives, our hearts.
For daily Scripture readings, go here for the ful text of today's reading from the Daily Office Lectionary.

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