I grew up in a very anti-catholic/anti-liturgical home. If it looked like Catholicism that was a sure sign that God wasn't in it...fortunately, I am past that way of thinking. A few years of education and actual conversation with practicing Catholics helped.
A quick survey of Church history reveals that protestants and Roman Catholicism share about 1,500 years of history. The more I studied, the more I realized that we (as a protestant church) had probably thrown the baby out with the bathwater; as they say. There were some spiritual practices that our forefathers (and mothers) took part in as the Body of Christ that we had let go...and might need to regain.
One of the things that was never present in my early spiritual development was the practice of Lent. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (yesterday), and lasts for the 46 days (40 when not counting Sundays) leading up to Easter. It focuses on repentance and fasting in order to remind ourselves of Christ's sacrifice at Easter.
At first I was hesitant. 40 days of fasting?!? But after the initial hesitancy, I dove in. The first couple of Lenten experiences were relatively easy after the first week of breaking away from the habit. I gave up caffeine...and I quickly learned there were substitutes...decaf coffee, decaf soda, etc.
I finally decided that if my Lenten fast was meant to continually remind me of Christ's sacrifice...then caffeine wasn't cutting it for me. Substitutes enable me to circumvent the whole "think about it" part. It was time for drastic measures...I was fasting from meat. Not just red meat...all meat, fish, and poultry.
For some this may not have been a stretch, but for me...I am a meatatarian! I eat meat at every meal and most snacks...some meals are meat only!
As hard as that 46 days was...it was the most beneficial Lenten season I had ever experienced. Because my every meal revolved around meat, I had to constantly think about what I was going to eat that would fill me up and not include meat. As I struggled to create meal plans, I was forced to prayer and to remember the great sacrifice Christ made on my behalf.
I am not fasting from meat this year, but Lent is still a powerful time of the year for me spiritually. I am adding a few things (Bible reading and prayer time), and I am going to fast completely on a few regular days this Lent. I believe God blesses our decision to fast...to abstain from physical things in order to seek His spiritual things.
If you would like...
What are your Lenten experiences?
Are practicing Lent this year? From what are you fasting?