Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Welcome to Lent

Yes, I do mean welcome. Although we often joke about dreading the sacrifices of Lent, this annual period of preparation for Easter is really something to look forward to. It's a time for prayer, penitence and self-mortification. It's a time for Christians to look at their lives and at the world around them with renewed clarity and vigor.

I am often asked if I'm giving up beer for Lent. No, I am not. Why not? Because beer isn't something all that critical to my life. What's the sacrifice in that? Believe it or not, I don't normally drink beer most days anyway. I seldom share my Lenten sacrifices publicly. I'm enduring them not for public glory. Sure I, and most folks, will give up some foods or meals, but fasting is not meant to be a diet, it's meant as a sacrifice of the things we enjoy. It's a means of suffering, if only mildly, to remind ourselves of the suffering endured on our behalf by our Lord.

I try to make my Lenten sacrifices a positive force. Increased prayer and spiritual reading. Extra time spent helping others. Those are the things that bring us closer to God. For example, if you give up TV, use that time to help someone else, or for personal prayer. I hope you welcome this season and use it to nourish and deepen your faith.

Are you looking to go beyond simply giving up beer and chocolate? Here's an excellent article that will help you examine your goals for this Lent: "40 Ways for These 40 Days".

I hope you have a positive and joy-filled Lent.

And when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Amen I say to you, they have received their reward.  But thou, when thou fastest anoint thy head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not to men to fast, but to thy Father who is in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret, will repay thee.
--Matthew 6: 16-18

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