Today is the first day of Lent for 2015. People observe Lent in many different ways. Some like to give up or fast from something, while others like to take on or do something new or different. I like to try a bit of both, which seems to work for me.
My favourite description of what Lent is comes from the introduction to Bread and Wine, a book I have read a few times during the period of Lent and Easter:
First popularized in the fourth century, Lent is traditionally associated with penitence, fasting, almsgiving, and prayer. It is a time for “giving things up” balanced by “giving to” those in need. Yet whatever else it may be, Lent should never be morose – an annual ordeal during which we begrudgingly forgo a handful of pleasures. Instead, we ought to approach Lent as an opportunity, not a requirement. After all, it is meant to be the church’s springtime, a time when, out of the darkness of sin’s winter, a repentant, empowered people emerges. No wonder one liturgy refers to it as “this joyful season.” (page xvi)
Over the past few weeks I’ve spent a fair bit of time praying and thinking about how to observe Lent this year. A variety of thoughts and ideas have passed through my mind, but I finally settled on the following as things to help me as I make this annual journey:
- Fast for 12 hours each day following my evening meal. This is something that I have done during Lent for a few years now and it seems to really help me.
- Give up coffee. This is one I have avoided for a long time, because coffee has been a huge part of my daily life. Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been cutting back a bit from my 6-8 cups a day. I’m not anticipating giving it up being much of a problem and my body could probably use the break.
- Pray the Daily Office. I’ve been attempting to do this since the start of the year, but I always find the weekends, as well as mid-day and evening are times where I lose concentration. It’s getting easier, so I’m hoping Lent can help me to focus even more on accomplishing this.
- Develop a series of meditations on the Stations of the Cross, so I can use them during Holy Week. This was something I decided to do last summer when we were on holiday in Orkney. I took pictures of the 14 Stations of the Cross plaques on the walls of the Italian Chapel with this project in mind, so I’ll use them as the basis for this.
- Post a daily thought for Lent each day on this blog.
I also have a new book for Lent this year that I picked up a couple of weeks ago. It’s the book in the above picture – The Little Book of Lent, which is a book of daily reading compiled by Canon Arthur Howells. It looks like a good one to use and I’ll be sharing it with Pamela as well.
I’ll post an update after Easter with some thoughts and feelings on how it all went. What do you do, if anything for Lent. Please feel free to share your feelings or ideas in the comments section.