Faces on Faith: Season of Lent has started
By the time you read this, Lent will have begun. Those who attend liturgical churches are more than likely aware of Lent and the various practices associated with it. For others, Lent is probably better known as the season that follows Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday. To get us all on the same page, Lent is the 40-day season that extends from Ash Wednesday (Feb. 26 this year) to Easter (April 12). It’s a season characterized by spiritual self examination in preparation for the joyous celebration of Jesus’ resurrection.
Now, I know some of you just grabbed your calendars and counted the days from Ash Wednesday to Easter, and you counted 46 days. But I just said it’s 40 days. How can we both be right? Simple. Because Sundays are not included. Which begs the question, “Why not?” Because in those same liturgical churches, every Sunday is a “little Easter,” a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection, and so is not included in the penitential nature of Lent.
Traditionally, many people have adopted some sort of discipline during Lent, often giving up something they enjoy during the rest of the year. Recently, there has been an emphasis on taking on a spiritual discipline rather than giving something up. Making time for private devotions, adding a time for reading Scripture, or volunteering to help people in need are a few examples of disciplines to add. Whether you choose to give something up, or add something, the intention is for you to draw closer to Jesus.
Along with these disciplines, time for self-examination is an essential part of Lenten observation. How is your relationship with Jesus? Are you the person you want to be? Those and all sorts of similar questions will help you understand how you are doing spiritually, relationally and personally.
One final thought. Many, most, nearly all of us have trouble forgiving people who have hurt us in one way or another. I’ll give you the psychologist’s answer first: Holding onto past grievances does far more damage to you, psychologically, emotionally and physically than it ever will to the person we refuse to forgive. But spiritually, it damages our relationship with God. Every time we pray the Lord’s prayer, we pray to be forgiven as we forgive others. I don’t know about you, but I am in such constant need of being forgiven, that I absolutely cannot afford not to forgive.
Have a holy and blessed Lent!
The Rev. Alan Kelmereit is the assisting rector at Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church.