Ash Wednesday marked the beginning of Lent, also known as spring training for Christians.
The 40-day fasting period is traditionally celebrated by Catholics to commemorate the 40 years the Israelites spent wandering in the wilderness and Jesus’ 40 days of fasting and prayer in the desert. During this season, participants abstain from various indulgences, such as meat or alcohol, to strengthen their devotion and faith.
Christians in other denominations often jump on the bandwagon, refusing sweets, nixing Neflix and saying farewell to Facebook until Easter Sunday.
The practice of denying desires is about as counter-cultural an activity as it gets. However, the sacred time has morphed into a re-resolution-setting, new diet-starting excuse with a religious holiday as justification. In turn, Lent has lost its original reverence and essence.
The purpose of partaking in the fast is to experience the true meaning of sacrifice. Through the struggle comes a greater understanding.
A few tips for those participating in this Lent season:
Do not compare your Lenten fast to another. Temptations vary by individual and spread across the spectrum of excess or obsession. Self-denial involves examining your personal habits, struggles or excesses.
But, should you struggle in choosing, take counsel from someone who knows your everyday routine. We are often unconscious to our own vices, addictions or dependencies.
Instead of fasting, consider replacing one self-indulging activity for one that serves someone else. Or consider adopting a practice that will benefit your spiritual well-being. This is a good alternative for those who are living on the bare minimum from day to day.
Resist publicizing and flaunting of your chosen fast. If Lent is aimed at refocusing your attention and desires, His affirmation will be sufficient.
Fasting, by its nature, should be reflective, demanding and God-glorifying. Lent is not a mandated ritual for Christians and not the only opportunity for a lifestyle evaluation. For those choosing to take part in Lent for the next 40 days, participate in the spiritual discipline by giving Lent more than the lint of our pockets.