Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent. Forty days before we celebrate Christ’s resurrection at Easter. I remember as a young boy practicing Lent. I would give up candy, or something that I normally enjoyed. It’s a good practice to deny ourselves at least on occasion. I think the problem was that I didn’t really understand why I was giving something up during the Lenten season.
I grew up in the Catholic church, and although there was a time I felt bitter towards the church, because I believed there were some essential truths that I missed. For instance, I really didn’t learn much about grace, and that it’s by grace through faith that we come to Christ. Yet, as I’ve grown older I’ve come to realize that there are many things that I gained.
I practiced many of the traditions when I was young, but the meaning was lost on me. Now I’ve come to appreciate the good things that I learned in the church while I was growing up.
One of the things I learned is the Bible stories. This was brought home to me when I was studying the Bible with a friend from Japan. We were studying about Moses, and they asked me, “Who’s Moses?” I explained who he was. Then it hit me that most people in Mexico are Catholic, so they know many of the Bible stories.
It is interesting to me to see that many Protestants today are rediscovering some of the good wholesome things that the Catholic church practices. The forty days of Lent are similar to Jesus fasting for forty days in the desert. He was tempted after he fasted for forty days. Many of the disciplines practiced in the Catholic church are healthy. Disciplines like, solitude, guided prayer, even the practice of Lent can be helpful to our Christian faith.
One of my friends from our church, Bill Petro, who calls himself the friendly neighborhood historian has some helpful info on Mardi Gras and lent that I’m sure you would find interesting. You can read more here…
I just read another helpful article on Lent by Dr. Chuck DeGroat. He wrote, “As people addicted to comfort and convenience, we’re often unaware of how we live to feel good about ourselves, to gain a bit of affirmation, to exert influence, to maximize our own pleasure, to satisfy our immediate needs. Lent invites us to intentionally frustrate ourselves, to engage in a season of deprivation, which actually makes us more aware of the depth of our dependence on any number of things – a substance, our reputation, control, achievement, being right, being comfortable, being secure.” You can find the whole article including some helpful resources on practicing Lent here…
I hope and pray that we might all grow in our Christian disciplines as we seek to follow Christ.
In His Grip, Dave