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Lent Free?

March 1, 2006

Today is Ash Wednesday, that day when some Christians have their forheads marked with ashes and fast. It also ushers in the Lenten season, a time of repentence and meditation leading up to Easter. This tradition began as an imitation of Jesus’ forty day fast in the wilderness and has been observed since apostolic times. For an excellent article about one person’s Ash Wednesday experience, visit here. For a more complete history of Lent, visit here.

I must confess, however, I’ve lived my life Lent free. I really didn’t know much about it, but over the last year, I’ve read a lot on the topic and several months ago contemplated observing Lent. However, I must also confess I forgot all about it until today, when I read my friend Sara’s blog. Sara abstained from blogging last year and is doing the same this year. My question to all of you who visit here is whether you’ve ever kept Lent and what was that experience like? How did it benefit your spiritual growth?

11 Comments leave one →
  1. March 1, 2006 11:19 am

    I’ve been thinking about this as well. I attended the Ash Wednesday service two years ago, and as I mentioned found it a powerful reminder. It feels like as Christians it is good to be reminded where we actually stand in comparison to Mighty God — nowhere without Him.

    I gave up coffee for Lent three years ago. Although it was good to exercise the discipline of abstaining from something for a spiritual reason, I didn’t feel that it was more meaningful, taking place during that particular season. I’m sure had I grown up in a Catholic or Episcopal tradition, I may have felt differently. But the experience showed me the importance of intentionally sacrificing my desires for the sake of reflection on Christ’s sacrifice.

  2. March 1, 2006 12:36 pm

    As a Catholic school student for 14 years I always observed Lent. Tell me if you think this is a spiritual experience. What I remember most is not being allowed to eat meat on Friday’s. One year the opening day of the Oriole’s was on a Friday. We got out of middle school early and went to the game. My friends and I all got hotdogs. Than we were filled with horror and guilt realizing that we had eaten meat!! The good news is, whether or not there is actually any meat in a hotdog is questionable and we were all able to absolve ourselves the next Friday at weekly confession.

  3. March 1, 2006 4:29 pm

    You can take ANYTHING and make it funny!

    Funny that on my “to do” list this week was “consider lent”…ha! Until I read your blog today, I had completely forgotten, and have eaten a week’s worth of chocolate today.
    I mention chocolate b/c that’s something I’m always trying to give up. But, like Laurie has said about our little sugar fast about a year ago, “it’s an exercise in futility”.

    I find abstaining during the lent season causes me to focus usually on what I’m abstaining from rather than what it’s intended to cause me to focus on: Christ’s sacrifice.
    I think reading a devotional book of some sort, like perhaps, “The Passion of Jesus Christ” by Piper might be a better option for me.

    As an avid reader, have any other good devotional picks that might help turn my focus more readily to the cross, Christ’s death and resurrection?

  4. March 1, 2006 11:27 pm

    My last two years of High school I went to a Catholic school (my parents wanted me to be better prepared for college) and as you know Catholics practice lent, the ashes on the forhead. I did it, beacause all my friends did, I was not Catholic but I did consider myself a Christian…but I honestly did not think too much about it.
    Fast forward 9 years and here we are. Part of me feels like we should be daily making sure that we are spending time with the Lord, dropping other things to be with him. However, this time of year, remembering especially the death of Christ on the the cross, giving something that we love everyday up to spend that time with the Lord could be so beneficial. Making sure you are sacrificing something you love, even though it is not comparable to what Christ sacrificed for us, we can reflect on him, his love, his power, his awesomeness in place of that thing. A good way to remember the death on the cross.
    You know it just depends on what you get from it, it could be an incredible time!!

  5. March 2, 2006 10:58 am

    I wasn’t even thinking about it until we drove past a Catholic church on our way to care group last night. Paul commented that his co-worker, Ray, always comes in to work with the ashes on his forehead the next day.

    I’m with Briana on this–the focus of abstaining was on ME–I was abstaining from parties and dating. The funny thing is I didn’t grow up Catholic, so when I attended Catholic college my first 2 years, it, Lent was one of those novelties I observed for the fun of it. Not spiritual at all, except to reveal how much I just wanted to fit in, whether by partying or observing Lent!

  6. March 2, 2006 12:56 pm

    Wow, it’s interesting how many Protestants went to Catholic school! Anyway, thank you all for your insightful comments. I’m glad this sparked some discussion.

    Karen, it was good to hear from you in blogland, your humor and perspecitve is always unique! 😉 Briana, I asked Josh about a book to recommend to you and he’s reading ‘God is the Gospel” by Piper right now and says it’s is excellent. Thank you, Suzanne, Anne, and Zoanna for sharing your experiences as well. I think, this year, I will continue “considering” Lent, since I don’t particularly feel lead to abstain from anything at this point. I think like you said, Briana, keeping in a cross-centered focus as I approach Easter. (Not that we shouldn’t do that all year, but you know what I mean.)

  7. March 2, 2006 4:36 pm

    Danielle, I saw on Nicole’s blog your open invitation to have a knitting party. Where and when? I’m in.
    Right now Saturday,Sunday, and Monday evenings are consistently open.

  8. nellybelly29 permalink
    March 2, 2006 6:35 pm

    Monday’s aren’t good for me, but I could do a Saturday! It mostly would depend on Nicole’s availability, because she’s the one that would have to help us! I only know one stitch!

  9. March 3, 2006 2:53 am

    I’ve never “celebrated” Lent, but last year (Oct – Oct) I “fasted” from going to the movies for a variety of reasons. I didn’t realize until later how much entertainment impacted my life (and I only went to “decent” movies!). The longer I went without seeing movies in the theater (and those horrible previews) the more sensitized I became again to what I view as God’s moral standard. I think the biggest spiritual lesson I learned by doing my movie theater fast was that A) there is so much in this world that is just noise and demands our attention B) life is so short and time is easy to waste C) God cares more about his holiness than my happiness and therefore I need to guard my heart and mind more aggressively. So now you now.

  10. March 3, 2006 8:47 am

    That was me who posted under “nellybelly29”. I was trying to sign in and there were issues. Anyway, thanks again for all your comments. J.R.Phillips, (sorry I don’t know you’re first name!) that’s some good points you make about watching movies. This is some great stuff to think about.

  11. March 3, 2006 12:42 pm

    Danielle, how in the world did you come up with “nellybelly”?–>

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