Lent is a 40-day period of spiritual preparation for the greatest feast of the Christian Year: the Sunday of the Resurrection, commonly known as Easter Day. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (March 6th this year) and concludes with the Easter Vigil on the Saturday evening (April 20th this year) before Easter.
The great 20th-century Russian Orthodox theologian Fr. Alexander Schmemann has aptly described Lent as “a spiritual journey whose purpose is to transfer us from one spiritual state into another.”
During Lent the Church asks us to take on a more active and energetic spiritual life and discipline. The Church recommends that we follow Jesus more closely through the Three Notable Duties of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, taught by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount.
Prayer: Take one step forward this Lent in this holy habit. A good rule is to pray once more per day than you presently do. If you don’t pray at all, begin now to say at least the Lord’s Prayer each day. Christian prayer, often remembered by the acronym ACTS, consists of Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication (supplication has two parts: petition for one’s own needs and intercession for others).
Fasting: Self-denial, tempered by reason, brings growth in character. Most of us live lives of comfort and ease. Sacrifices in food, drink, and bodily comfort will subdue the flesh to the spirit. Deny yourself things you don’t need: trashy reading, unprofitable TV or Internet or social media, junk food, eating between meals.
Almsgiving: Almsgiving is the setting aside of money, goods, or time for the special service of God. The Christian ideal is to give one tenth of our income to God’s purposes. This Lent find some person or cause as a beneficiary, such as an isolated person, a neglected child, or a worthy charity. Service to others and acts of compassion are also almsgiving.
Lent can and should become a transformational time during which Christian believers draw ever closer to Jesus Christ. If you would like to know about how Lent can be just such a time and experience for you, please contact us.