Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, the 40 day period which precedes Easter. Lent, as you probably know, is longer than 40 days because it is in fact 40 weekdays, Sundays aren’t included. So Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday is actually 46 days, 6½ weeks.
Traditionally it’s a time of fasting, which incidentally is why Sundays were excluded. Given that Sundays are meant to be a day of celebration of the resurrection of Jesus it was deemed inappropriate to include fasting in preparation for Easter on a Sunday, when every Sunday is meant to be a celebration of Easter.Lent this year happens to be pretty early (the date of Easter is calculated based on an an ancient lunar calendar, and so moves around every year). So I felt a bit unprepared for the beginning of Lent this week!
The question is, what to do to mark the season of Lent? Over the last few years I have given up clothes shopping in Lent, in addition to any other Lenten fast I might undertake. However, given that I have already begun undertaking a clothes fast since the beginning of this year, I probably need to explore something else.
My wife plans to fast for two meals each Friday in Lent and has suggested I join her. I’m thinking about it….
Lent doesn’t require giving up things, of course, you might instead choose to take on a project. The point of the exercise is not whether you give up or take on something. Rather, the point of whatever exercise you undertake in Lent is to focus the mind and to orient the heart. Ideally, it directs our attention away from ourselves..
Basically, whatever Lenten discipline you follow if it lifts our gaze from the ordinary to the extraordinary, from the exclusively physical and material to include the spiritual and the infinite, then I say, job done.
What will you do during Lent?