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Switch to Forum Live View What are you doing for Lent?
10 years ago  ::  Feb 04, 2008 - 1:16PM #1
Posts: 3

I'd love to hear about how you observe Lent, if at all. Do you fast? From what? Do you add some reflective reading? Do you care about this season at all, and has it been important in your life in some way? I spent a lot of years in Baptist circles, then charismatic, then plain vanilla evangelical, so Lent was a new concept to me when I became friends with an Anglican priest a few years ago. But I jumped in--this kind of observance was what I had been looking for in a long time, in some ways. Ash Wednesday services are one of the highlights of each year for me, and I spend a lot in time before Lent planning how I will observe it. Not that I observe it successfully--last year was a near total waste, as I gave up my reading plan in quick fashion, and broke my fasts. But in some years past, the season of Lent has been an absolute anchor for my year, and I'm hoping it will be the same this year. And you?

Moderated by Beliefnet_grace on Feb 10, 2010 - 12:51PM
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 05, 2008 - 9:30AM #2
Posts: 3,689
Orthodox Christians have a little different pov about Lent (as well as about most other things!). Other faith communities observe Lent with private decisions to "give up" something while Eastern Orthodox Christians observe Lent in a way that is communal. We seek to reorient ourselves and our lives toward Christ, by paying more attention to prayer, fasting, reading Scripture, attending services, participating in the sacrament of confession, charity and working on ourselves. For the forty days of Lent, most of us (depending on our personal health circumstances and in consultation with our priest or spiritual father) will eat no meat, fish, eggs, cheese, or other dairy products, drink alcohol or use olive oil, which some interpret this to mean all oils.

This is done in not so much a spirit of "giving up" but of shifting our focus, just as an athlete trains himself, so we try to train ourselves to center our lives, minds, and hearts more closely on Christ. We refer to it as ascetic practices - btw, the Greek for athletic training is "ascesis."

St. John Chrysostom on Fasting
Do you fast? Give me proof of it by your works.
If you see a poor man, take pity on him.
If you see a friend being honored, do not envy him.
Do not let only your mouth fast, but also the eye and the ear and the feet and the hands and all the members of our bodies.
Let the hands fast, by being free of avarice.
Let the feet fast, by ceasing to run after sin.
Let the eyes fast, by disciplining them not to glare at that which is sinful.
Let the ear fast, by not listening to evil talk and gossip.
Let the mouth fast from foul words and unjust criticism.
For what good is it if we abstain from birds and fishes, but bite and devour our brothers?
May HE who came to the world to save sinners strengthen us to complete the fast with humility, have mercy on us and save us
“The Law of the Church is to give oneself to what is given not to seek one’s own.” Fr. Alexander Schmemann
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 05, 2008 - 10:22AM #3
Posts: 120
My faith tradition (Catholic) proposes prayer, fasting and almsgiving during Lent as a way of deepening our spiritual life.  How we implement this is up to each individual person, although our church law requires fasting (only one meal a day) and abstinence (refraining from meat) on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and abstinence on all Fridays in Lent.

Since I am a vegetarian already, the abstinence is a non-issue for me so I try to make up for it by doing a true fast on Ash Wed and Good Friday - no food whatsoever on those days (just water). 

As far as prayer goes, I try to attend daily worship services (i.e. mass) as much as possible. 

My almsgiving usually happens the day after Ash Wed when, after 36 or so hours of not eating, I am more than happy to contribute to an organization that helps feed the hungry.
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 05, 2008 - 2:24PM #4
Posts: 1,020
Love this thread.  I just returned to the Lutheran church about six years ago after many years (okay decades) of no church-going and I was surprised to learn that Lutherans get ashes on their foreheads too like the Catholics.  I was so excited.  I went to my first Ash Wednesday service two years ago and also started attending the Wednesday services during Lent.  I am learning a lot.

Last year for Lent I gave up alcohol and lost twenty pounds.  I read the Weigh Down book and stuck to it.  I never could have done it alone, if you know what I'm getting at.  I would not cheat because I had promised God.

I am looking forward to Lentin services again this year!
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 05, 2008 - 3:50PM #5
Posts: 120
[QUOTE=VBallR;266284]Love this thread.  I just returned to the Lutheran church about six years ago after many years (okay decades) of no church-going and I was surprised to learn that Lutherans get ashes on their foreheads too like the Catholics.  I was so excited.  I went to my first Ash Wednesday service two years ago and also started attending the Wednesday services during Lent.  I am learning a lot.[/QUOTE]

I love the imposition of ashes as well.  Such a powerful symbolic action when you understand what the ashes are all about.  For those Christians who might not understand the practice, in the ancient Near East, ashes symbolized mourning, mortality and penance (cf. e.g.  Esther 4:1, Job 42:6, Daniel 9:3, Matthew 11:21).  We use ashes to mark the begining of Lent when we mourn and do penance for our sins; again convert our hearts to the Lord, who suffered, died, and rose for our salvation; renew the promises made at our baptism, when we died to an old life and rose to a new life with Christ; and mindful that the kingdom of this world passes away ("you are dust and to dust you shall return" (Gn. 3:19)), we strive to live the kingdom of God now and look forward to its fulfillment in heaven.

In the Catholic Church (and in the Luthern church as well, I believe), we use ashes made from the burned palm branches distributed on the Palm Sunday of the previous year.  When the priest places the ashes on our forehead he repeats Jesus' words to "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the gospel" (cf. Mark 1:15).
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 05, 2008 - 4:23PM #6
Posts: 3,689
The Orthodox Church begins Lent with Forgiveness Sunday , the last Sunday before Great Lent. On that day at Vespers, we ask forgiveness from each other, we perform the rite of forgiveness and reconciliation. The whole congregation forms a giant circle in the sanctuary (most Orthodox churches don't have pews since our custom is to stand during services) and, beginning with the priest (who kneels down and prostrates himself before each person and asks their forgiveness for failing them in any way as their priest and brother in Christ), we go around the circle, bowing before each one, children included, saying, "Forgive me, a sinner," and they respond with, "I forgive as God forgives," until every person has gone around the circle, everyone has asked for and received forgiveness from everyone. It is a powerful and moving experience.

"What is the meaning of this rite? Why is it that the Church wants us to begin Lenten season with forgiveness and reconciliation? These questions are in order because for too many people Lent means primarily, and almost exclusively, a change of diet, the compliance with ecclesiastical regulations concerning fasting. They understand fasting as an end in itself, as a "good deed" required by God and carrying in itself its merit and its reward. But, the Church spares no effort in revealing to us that fasting is but a means, one among many, towards a higher goal: the spiritual renewal of man, his return to God, true repentance and, therefore, true reconciliation. The Church spares no effort in warning us against a hypocritical and pharisaic fasting, against the reduction of religion to mere external obligations. As a Lenten hymn says:

In vain do you rejoice in no eating, O soul!
For you abstain from food,
But from passions you are not purified.
If you persevere in sin, you will perform a useless fast.

Now, forgiveness stands at the very center of Christian faith and of Christian life because Christianity itself is, above all, the religion of forgiveness. God forgives us, and His forgiveness is in Christ, His Son, Whom He sends to us, so that by sharing in His humanity we may share in His love and be truly reconciled with God. Indeed, Christianity has no other content but love. And it is primarily the renewal of that love, a return to it, a growth in it, that we seek in Great Lent, in fasting and prayer, in the entire spirit and the entire effort of that season. Thus, truly forgiveness is both the beginning of, and the proper condition for the Lenten season.

One may ask, however: Why should I perform this rite when I have no "enemies"? Why should I ask forgiveness from people who have done nothing to me, and whom I hardly know? To ask these questions, is to misunderstand the Orthodox teaching concerning forgiveness. It is true, that open enmity, personal hatred, real animosity may be absent from our life, though if we experience them, it may be easier for us to repent, for these feelings openly contradict Divine commandments. But, the Church reveals to us that there are much subtler ways of offending Divine Love. These are indifference, selfishness, lack of interest in other people, of any real concern for them -- in short, that wall which we usually erect around ourselves, thinking that by being "polite" and "friendly" we fulfill God’s commandments. The rite of forgiveness is so important precisely because it makes us realize – be it only for one minute – that our entire relationship to other men is wrong, makes us experience that encounter of one child of God with another, of one person created by God with another, makes us feel that mutual "recognition" which is so terribly lacking in our cold and dehumanized world.

On that unique evening, listening to the joyful Paschal hymns we are called to make a spiritual discovery: to taste of another mode of life and relationship with people, of life whose essence is love. We can discover that always and everywhere Christ, the Divine Love Himself, stands in the midst of us, transforming our mutual alienation into brotherhood. As l advance towards the other, as the other comes to me – we begin to realize that it is Christ Who brings us together by His love for both of us.

And because we make this discovery – and because this discovery is that of the Kingdom of God itself: the Kingdom of Peace and Love, of reconciliation with God and, in Him, with all that exists – we hear the hymns of that Feast, which once a year, "opens to us the doors of Paradise." We know why we shall fast and pray, what we shall seek during the long Lenten pilgrimage. Forgiveness Sunday: the day on which we acquire the power to make our fasting – true fasting; our effort – true effort; our reconciliation with God – true reconciliation." Fr Alexander Schmemann
“The Law of the Church is to give oneself to what is given not to seek one’s own.” Fr. Alexander Schmemann
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 15, 2008 - 3:20PM #7
Posts: 610
[QUOTE=Fred 4;263954]I'm also looking forward to Lent!  This year I've decided to abstain from alcohol, pork (love that bacon!), and junk food.  I hope to dedicate time every day for prayer and reading.  Also, spending more time with my in-laws.  As I said, I'm really looking forward to this time.  I hope that when Easter rolls around I'm closer to God and family... and hopefully about 15 pounds lighter![/QUOTE]

I'm abstaining from meat on Friday's and instead trying to focus on the Scriptures.
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10 years ago  ::  Feb 19, 2008 - 2:32AM #8
Posts: 1
“Remember, you are made of dust and the light of stars.”  These were the closing words of my minister at a recent Lenten service.  Perhaps because the service had spiritually lifted me, the words filled my mind with images of beams of starlight filled with swirling, dancing, glistening dust particles.  The service had been about saying no to discouragement, doubt, fear, and apathy and yes to God’s call and promise.  When the minister’s words began, – “Remember, you are made of dust …” – I closed my eyes in meditative humility.  I was ready to reflect on a reminder that our small and temporary concerns will pass.  I opened my eyes with gladdened astonishment as he ended “… and the light of stars.”  I am both meekly human and infinitely spiritual.  I can accept my humanity while affirming my essence that is offered and given by God.

Over the years, Lent has become, for me, a time of humble self-reflection and cleansing as well as of hope, acceptance, and peaceful bliss.
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10 years ago  ::  Mar 06, 2008 - 1:54PM #9
Posts: 452
The dust is, Ionic trace Minerals. Your being will not live without they. so if you put them back in the body you will be full of life again.
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10 years ago  ::  Mar 06, 2008 - 4:38PM #10
Posts: 276
Isaiah 58:6-7  "This, rather, is the fasting that I wish:--------Sharing your bread with the hungry-----and not turning your back on your own."   

These are the things I am doing for Lent.   Got a refund from my credit card and spent it all on  food for my parish Easter food drive for the poor in the parish. 

I listen to what Our Lord has to say to me through The Book of Isaiah.  I was healed of migraine headaches by Our Lord telling me to read Isaiah 53.   I didn't hear Our Lords voice, the thought came that I was supposed to read it.   

One Sunday morning I  was weeping because the headaches were so bad and couldn't hardly stand the pain, and cried out to Our Lord.  All my physician prescribed would only put me to sleep, but I could still feel the headaches. 

I read Isaiah 53 three times, and when I came to the verse "by His stripes you were healed," (the 3rd time) the headache left and never had another one.   

Praise God!
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