Lent: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving
The ascetic practices of Lent are meant to strip away the excess that clutters our spiritual lives so that we can experience anew at Easter that same re-birth that was ours at our Baptism. Ironically, we ask one another the question: "What are you doing for Lent?"
Perhaps the question should be: "What are you not doing during Lent."
The three traditional disciplines of the season are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Each of these practices aims to simplify our lives by removing excess.
Prayer requires that we stop our idle chatter in order to listen to God.
Fasting keeps us from feeding our sense of self-sufficiency as we curtail the feeding of our bellies.
Almsgiving reins in our selfish spending for the benefit of the poor.
Contemporary revisions of these Lenten disciplines often encourage people to give up something that they shouldn't be doing in the first place or take on something that is good for them. The trouble with this modern frame is that it keeps the focus on the individual.
The traditional practice maintains that talking, eating, and even some spending are not bad; they are all gifts from God. It is the limiting of these goods that creates the hunger for God within each of us.
How can you observe Lent so that it prepares you to feast on the mystery of Easter?
Simone Brosig, Ph.D - Published in Carillon, March 2011.
April 18, 2013
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