Do you love Lent? I do, but a lot of folk don't have all that
much affection for the season. Many Christians have come to think
of it in negative terms; however, Lent is not about hair shirts,
solemn countenances and the like. Rather, it is a positive, strengthening,
lovely spiritual experience, and if you want to grow in your
love of God and your neighbor, then Lent is for you! Here are
five things to do with single-mindedness this Lent which, if
you do them, will give you a clearer vision of the Risen Christ,
FASTING & ABSTINENCE
The biggest problem we moderns have with fasting and abstinence
is one of confusion; that is, we don't really understand them.
The priest gets up and talks about what they mean, and when he's
done, people are more confused than they were when he started.
So, here's a simplified elucidation of fasting and abstinence:
Abstinence lowers the quality of food (usually by not eating
meat) and fasting lowers the quantity, and usually means not
more than a light breakfast, one full meal, and one half meal
daily each fast day.
Therefore, the rule is "keep it smaller and keep it simpler.
" Smaller portions of food, and simpler menus. Don't eat
so much during Lent. Not because you necessarily have to lose
weight, but because the practice will give you strength in your
spiritual life by weakening the attractions of the sensate pleasures.
Fasting makes the waistline shrink and the heart get larger,
and abstinence makes the heart grow fonder.
Indulge in both fasting and abstinence during Lent, and you will
have a clearer vision of the Risen Christ, come Easter.
For the forty days of Lent, start and end each day with prayer.
Read Morning and Evening Prayer and/or Family Prayer. Dust
off that old grace you used to say before eating - spend some
table time in quiet reflection and prayer instead of chattering
and chomping. Pray daily, making sure you indulge in all the
qualities of Christian prayer - adoration, thanksgiving, petition,
penitence, and invocation.
Pray daily, and you will have a clearer vision of the Risen Christ,
Do this daily, also, and if you haven't availed yourself of
reading the Daily Office of morning and evening prayer, you are missing out on the
opportunity the Church has given you for daily study and reading
of Holy Writ. There's solace, insight, encouragement, grace and
a whole lot more in scripture, and that can't be said about any
other book in your library. The Good Book is precisely that,
and those who read it daily learn how to be good - godly - themselves.
Read Holy Writ daily, and you will have a clearer vision of the
Risen Christ, come Easter.
Corporate worship is a basic Christian duty. Our prayer book
puts it succinctly, telling us that part of our bounden duty
is to worship
God every Sunday in his Church. Doing so brings us understanding,
strengthens our faith, gives us hope, fills us with encouragement,
and gives us the first-hand experience of being loved by God
- and that gives us the ability to love others more fully. There
is nothing we can do on Sunday morning that is more important
than being in God's House and being fed by His grace-filled presence
in the Blessed Sacrament.
Make a commitment not to miss one single Sunday in God's House
this Lenten season. Jesus told us to this do,(Luke
22:19; 1Cor 11:24-25) so let's do it together, every
single Sunday, and you will have a clearer vision of the Risen
Christ, come Easter.
(1) converting the sinner, (2) instructing the ignorant, (3)
counseling the doubtful, (4) comforting the sorrowful, (5) bearing
wrongs patiently, (6) forgiving injuries, (7) praying for the
living and the dead.
Corporal Works Of Mercy
(1) feeding the hungry, (2) giving drink to the thirsty, (3)
clothing the naked, (4) harboring the stranger, (5) visiting
the sick, (6) ministering to prisoners, (7) burying the dead.
Finally, and no doubt most importantly, let your Lenten
lapses and failures - whatever they may be serve only to increase
your dependence upon God. None of us will do all we want to do
during Lent. That's the human condition. The point is not to
get a good grade; the point is to increase your capacity to love
God and your neighbor.
After all, Lent is a time to learn how to love - God's way -
once again. That's the whole point of the season!