All of these pieces of wisdom stopped me in my tracks; all left me speechless; all of them changed the way I look at life, God and my fellow human beings.
Reverend James Martin SJ in “For Lent: the Best Advice I’ve Ever Heard”
I am doing something rather new to me, observing Lent along with my Baptist church. I am starting to read the daily passages of a little book the church provided by Chuck Swindoll, entitled Walk With Jesus: A 40 Day Journey to the Cross and Beyond. But I also wanted to be saturated with scripture and get a sense of the historical observation of the season, including fasting. I wanted the Catholic point of view.
I find comfort in the structure of the regular celebrations and observations in the liturgical year. Some of my first church experiences as a child were tagging along with my best friend on Saturday evenings as she and her large family piled into the station wagon to go to their Catholic Church. I went so consistently that I still have much of the order of mass memorized. So, to get the Catholic view of Lent, I looked online.
I found exactly the kind of information I was looking for, here. Fasting is eating sparingly, or only drinking liquids, for a time. I learned from various sites that there are different customs for fasting during Lent: some only fast on Ash Wednesday (which is today) and Good Friday. Others fast each day, except for Sundays. Some give up certain food like chocolate or meat. I will try to fast today and Good Friday, and give up certain foods during Lent.
The importance of fasting is that it shows our dependence on God. One article says it beautifully: the three traditional practices to be taken up with renewed vigor during Lent are prayer (justice towards God), fasting (justice towards self), and almsgiving (justice towards neighbor).
While browsing, I found a blog post by James Martin SJ, which moved me so much that I decided to share it here. It is entitled “For Lent: the Best Advice I’ve Ever Heard”. This is eye-opening and comforting, different from what you might expect to read about Lent as a time to be sober and humble, and written by someone who has the perspective of being a businessman in the world, as well as a Jesuit priest. (He has appeared on various television shows, including The History Channel and even one of my favorites, Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report.)
I hope it inspires you like it inspires me, and gives you a reason to stop for a moment and reflect on this season of Lent.