Fasting For Lent

Have you given up something for Lent?

My friend is a very religious man. He is Catholic, traditional. He goes to Mass every morning. He also goes to the Y to exercise every day–he’s religious about that, too. Typical of the old German Catholics in our area, he likes his beer. He really only has one or two a day, but he makes it sound like he has more.

Every Lent, he gives up beer, fried foods and pastry (cakes, pies, and the like). Some of his family tell him that such a thing is bad for him. He’s 84 and healthy. He tells me that the he always feels much better physically when he fasts in that way. He started doing it for Advent, too.

My religious tradition recognizes Lent, but never talked about giving up something. That was something the Lutherans and Catholics did. Methodists might have an Ash Wednesday service (actually, we always had Maunday Thursday not Ash Wednesday as a regular service). My wife was a Baptist and also did not have very much of a Lenten routine.

Never taught about the Spiritual discipline of fasting, I guess I always thought about it as somewhat frivolous. We always talked about old Johnny G. who always gave up watermelon for Lent. In those days, you only got watermelon in season–and February, March and April was not the season!

I read Jon Swanson’s 300 Words a Day blog. He has written Lent for Non-Lent People. I probably should buy it.

The one thing that sets Christianity apart from other religions–especially the other monotheistic religions of Judaism and Islam–is the resurrection of Jesus. Lent is the period of time traditionally set aside to contemplate the mystery of the event. As Paul wrote, without the resurrection, we are all fools in our belief. So, setting aside 40 days (you don’t count Sundays) to contemplate on the resurrection is worthwhile.

I’m in the contemplative tradition. That’s not really Methodist. But I am what I am. This post reflects my contemplation as I enter into the season.

Now, what should I give up?

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