On Ash Wednesday

For the observant, Ash Wednesday is a time of reflection, and the beginning of Lent.

Here’s an explainer.

imagesLent is not part of my spiritual practice, though going without things (premarital sex, sex outside of marriage, thoughts about sex outside of marriage, booze, street drugs) is. So much of my own tradition in Christianity seems to be about the negatives (living life with a list of don’ts clutched in my right hand) that piling on for 40 days seems excessive.

But the idea of going without in the hope of going with makes sense to me. (I know I am not doing Lent justice, and forgive me. That’s why I linked to the explainer article, because it’s written by Someone Who Knows.) I wonder if going without something for Lent is something one keeps quiet — like the size of one’s donation to a local charity, or the wish one makes on a birthday candle. If so, good. I’ll keep my Lent do-without quiet. That way? If I blow it? Only God and I will know.

All that to say: I wish all people observing Lent a blessed one. Glory!


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    1. I have a couple of Episcopal clergy friends who have tried this, and I think they both came to the same conclusion. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but in practice it lost a lot in translation.

  1. I don’t practice Lent. Instead of giving up something, maybe I’ll give something thruout Lent. I think I’ll try my best to practice a reverse Lent – give to those who usually do without. That would work for me.

    1. What a great idea. I think I’ll steal it, as I was going to give up angry thoughts and THAT ain’t gonna happen, so…

      “Each day I’ll do (let’s hear it from the bass!) [Each day I’ll do] A golden deed [A golden deed] By helping thooose [By helping those] Who are in neeeeeeeeed [Who are in need]. My life on earth [My life on earth] Is but a span [Is but a span] And so I’ll doooooo [And so I’ll do] The best I can [The best I can].”

      Love that hymn.

  2. The Greek Orthodox Church takes Lent pretty seriously, as you may imagine. The fasting aspect is approached gradually, with Meat Fare Sunday two weeks prior, when you finish the last of the meat, and Cheese Fare the last Sunday prior, when the last of the cheese and other dairy is consumed. Then Great Lent starts on Clean Monday, and lasts for 40 days, including Sundays, although there are special rules and exceptions for Sundays and a few saints days that fall during Lent. The week before Easter is Holy Week, still fasting but apart from the Great Lent.

    Having said that, no one I ever knew has kept a strict fast except for the grandmothers and the converts. The point of all these suggestions — fasting, confession, additional services — is that every day there will be a reminder, even if you ignore it, that this time is special. That’s why kosher laws are still embraced by many Jews, long after any question of food safety and lack of refrigeration is past. Everyone has to eat, every day, and so at least three times a day we are unavoidably mindful of the special nature of this season.

    Personally, what made Lent special for me, when I was an observant Greek Orthodox, was the Wednesday evening Vespers service. It opens with Psalm 104, my favorite, and it’s very peaceful and quiet, totally unlike Sunday morning. I would go every week if it were offered, but it’s not, because then it wouldn’t be special anymore.

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