Lent begins on Wednesday, so I’ve been contemplating it’s coming over the past few weeks. I can’t say that I particularly enjoy celebrating it, after all who enjoys restricting themselves, but I do look forward to the lessons I learn from it and the good it does for my life.
If you haven’t celebrated Lent before, you can read up on it a bit here. I have been participating in it for about four or five years now. Some friends and I chose to celebrate it as an act of devotion and self-control, like a growing number of Protestants. And because we don’t have the same regulations, I guess would be a correct term, as Catholics, we do it a little differently. Some celebrate from Ash Wednesday, for 2012 it’s February 22, to Holy Thursday, April 5. Others of us choose to go through the Saturday and finish on Easter Sunday morning at church. I like the latter, personally. And I also take the the opportunity as some do to see the Sundays between as mini celebrations, where you can break your fast. So, that’s how I Lent.
The items for my Lenten fast vary each year. I’m sure some people use the same thing each year or change it up depending on their circumstance. They may give up chocolate or alcohol or another food or activity. With Protestants, it varies pretty dramatically from what I’ve seen. The point is to really sacrifice something, or more than one thing. It has to have meaning for you because that time is then used to grow your relationship with Christ through prayer, fasting and giving. If it doesn’t hurt in some way, it doesn’t count.
For me, the fasting portion typically revolve around the goals I have for myself that year or something I really want to work on or improve in my life. For example, this year I’ve decided on a fasting item to go with my three major goals for the year: physical, spiritual and financial. They are personal, so I only share them with a few people who will hold me accountable. I suggest you do the same. Remember, fasting isn’t supposed to make you comfortable. Growth opportunities are usually challenging, and not always fun.
So, that’s a little on Lent from me to you. I hope you will consider taking part in it. For any Christian, it’s a great exercise in devotion, self-control and deepening your relationship with God. Give it a try and let me know how it went!