The practices of Lent are the three spiritual disciplines endorsed by Christ in the Sermon on the Mount: fasting (reduction in quantity and quality of food, drink, and other bodily pleasures), prayer (including the reading of Scripture), and almsgiving (giving to those in need). On the forty weekdays of Lent (Sundays are not fast days), we are asked to reduce the quality of our food (“abstinence”) and on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday also to reduce its quantity (“fasting”). The fast may be broken in the evening with a light meal of plain food. In the western church, the custom is to abstain from flesh meat during Lent. The rigor of the fast is alleviated for the very young, the elderly, for reasons of health, and for those engaged in heavy labor. Such moderation is not only good for our bodies, but also for our souls. We say “no” to our bodily appetites that we may say “yes” to God and neighbor. Fasting liberates time that might be spent in the pleasures of watching television, playing games, or socializing for the discipline of daily prayer. This may be fulfilled by participation in the Church’s daily prayers, either in the chapel or on your own (the iPrayBCP app makes it easy). Fasting also liberates money that might have been spent in self-indulgence – in pricey restaurant meals, expensive cuts of red meat, etc. – to help the needy. In these disciplines, we bring our lives more fully into alignment with the gospel we believe and the grace we have received.
If you have questions or topics for this feature, please send them to the Rector Gavin Dunbar.