“Sh*t! Why did you bring pepperoni pizza. Don't you know it's Lent. I can't eat meat during Lent. D*mit! Now what am going to eat?” My co-worker stormed out of the lunch room as the young salesman who had bought us the pizza looked stunned and apologetic. The rest of us waited a moment and then thanked the generous salesman for the pizza and began to eat.
One of my good friends recently said,“Lent is always good for my diet. By giving up sweets for Lent I have managed to lose five pounds.” Is Lent just a forty day weight-loss program?
I am pretty sure neither one of the above stories are what the early church fathers had in mind when they came up with the idea of Lent. Neither one seems to reflect the love I see in Jesus, nor does either of them seem to show that their Lenten sacrifice makes them more spiritual or closer to God. Admittedly I have never made much effort at any particular discipline during Lent. I am a Christian, but the religious tradition of my childhood did not follow a liturgical year. The practice of one day or season as more holy than another was discouraged. Holy days were considered “denominational”, and therefore wrong. The strong anti-Lent attitude of the church of my childhood seems overly judgmental. Making others uncomfortable or bragging about the personal sacrifices you are making in the name of your religion is wrong.
It seems to me that Lent could be a very useful time of spiritual growth. I know several people who look upon Lent as a very important time of growth and reflection. I respect their faith and the reflection of Jesus I see in their life.
Is Lent a useful period of spiritual growth in your life?
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