Lent begins tomorrow

Hi, everyone. It's Fat Tuesday again, which means tomorrow is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lent season. I began my celebration of Lent with a 490 calorie Mrs. Field's ice cream and chocolate chip cookie sandwich - my two favorite desserts besides chocolate - and washed it down with my favorite soda Pepsi Maxx. Unusual? Not really. Many Christians all over the world are using today and the weeks before Lent to eat things they will give up during Lent. And, Mike and I are going for it this year. No junk food for the next six weeks.

For us, this is a sacrifice.

But Lent is not really about sacrifice, it's about spiritual formation. People who celebrate Lent can give up a harmful habit (in our case eating junk food) or they can add something to their routine like prayer, community service, study, whatever. I plan to blog more during Lent, study and pray when I crave junk food. I'm hoping that it will be a time of growth.

Returning to our roots

I was born and raised a Protestant in what is called a "low church." This means that my church does not, according to the CRI Voice, follow a "prescribed order of service ... does not follow certain liturgical patterns, and does not make use of developed ritual, ceremony, or worship accouterments like vestments." We do not follow the church liturgical calendar. When I was growing up the only thing we observed Good Friday and celebrated Easter. I didn't even realize that people all over the world observed Lent until I was an adult. I didn't know that there was a whole six weeks of observances that I was missing. Am I going Catholic? Some may wonder since I recently visited Benet Hill Monastery for a retreat, but I'm not. I just want to return to my roots and celebrate in a way that Christians have celebrated for the last 1,800 years or so.

As I have grown spiritually, I realize that there is nothing wrong with wanting to return to my roots in the Christian faith. After all, Catholics are our brothers and sisters in Christ. Unfortunately, to hear some Protestants talk, Catholics are on a slippery slope to hell. I beg to differ with this opinion. On our trip to the monastery, I found that the sisters not only followed the biblically-based Rule of St. Benedict, they were also immersed in the scriptures. Even their liturgy of daily prayers were word-for-word scripture. Most Protestants cannot claim this. We are very much into free speech in prayer. There is nothing wrong with this either, I just think a balance is needed. This keeps us from blabbering and saying things that are not biblical. Maybe more on that later.

Lent is also a time of reflection. We remember what Christ did for us on the cross. This is important because reflection causes us to be grateful and gratefulness is the root of a good spiritual life. How will you spend your time during this six-week season? If you have a special routine or some questions post your comments below.

Tomorrow I'll post some suggestions on how to reflect during the season.