Today marks the beginning of Lent. For the next 40 days (Sundays excluded) we prepare for the Passion of Christ (the trial, sentencing, Crucifixion and Death of Jesus , the Son of God).
Forty is a significant number in the Bible. It usually marks a time or period of trial or a passage through some thing to somewhere (symbolizing conversion). It rained on Noah and company for 40 days and nights. The Israelites wandered about the Sinai desert for 40 years. Elijah spent 40 days traveling to Mount Horeb from a spot in the desert outside Beersheba. Jesus went into the desert for 40 days and was tempted by Satan.
Fasting and abstinence marks the period of Lent. Catholics are bound by certain obligations regarding such. You can check with a priest to learn what they are (usually listed in the parish bulletin) or you can go to the EWTN website in the sidebar, click on “Lenten Reflections” and then click on “Fast and Abstinence”. Trying to link to it in yesterday’s post caused me much trouble and made me lose the post.
Anyway, fasting involves not eating. There’s more to it that just that. When a Christian fasts, they are linking the act to prayer. Their sufferings of the fast are being offered up to God as a sacrifice. This transcends ordinary prayer, which is powerful, but as you are linking a physical act to the prayer, it is more poignant. God hears all prayers, but the prayer of fasting rings through more clearly and is an acceptable offering pleasing to Him.
Abstinence involves not eating meat. Again, like fasting, abstinence involves much more than the Lenten regulations. The forsaking of something and offering it up as a prayer assists you in detaching yourself from worldly concerns and desires. It liberates your mind to dwell more deeply in God’s Truths, eschewing merely human concerns. Abstinence is the “What are you giving up for Lent?” question. But you do not have to just “give up” something. You can take on additional tasks. Increased prayer and meditation, especially on the Lord’s Passion are fruitful, as well as doing things for others. By doing things for others, it can be said that you are abstaining from the self.
Lent is also and excellent time to start work (or continue) on ridding yourself of character defects and personality problems. What better time to focus on and accelerate your conversion than the season of Lent? It’s perfect, because you are not alone on the journey. Other Catholics are along as well.
Have a productive Lent.Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! (Thank you!!)"The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics"