The time is almost here – Great Lent 2010. The thought of fasting, more church services, self-denial, spiritual reading, prostrations – I almost get as excited about these things as a kid does before Christmas. I know that sounds twisted by modern standards, but I love Great Lent. It’s a time to push yourself, to spend extra time in church and in prayer. I didn’t say it was easy for me, but I actually am able to achieve more precisely because the Church expects these things out of me. I know a lot of people object to these kinds of religious rules – they think they’re pointless and heavy-handed and feel they don’t have any connection to the real message of the Bible. I couldn’t disagree more.
It’s only by following the rules of the Church that we get the strength and the discipline to follow through on our spiritual journey. Christ’s instructions to his disciples always included commandments to pray continuously and fast; are these things any less beneficial to us? The Church from the earliest days has set out certain periods of the year for fasting and penance; other times for feasting and celebration. These dates aren’t decided by an individual believer, at their own whim and enforced by their own self-discipline. Does it work? Probably not well. Just look around – if self-discipline and self-direction were so easy, 100 million Americans wouldn’t be obese, alcoholics, or compulsive gamblers. Sometimes you can find a lot of freedom and comfort in letting someone else call the shots. It’s not blind obedience when it’s a conscious choice.
If you’re looking for good companions to your lenten journey, check out the following links to Great Lent resources: