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A view from the pew: Is there more to Lent than eating fish on Friday?

By JIM BROOKS
Nelson County Gazette / WBRT Radio

Sunday, March 19, 2017 — Today marked the midway point of the 40 days of Lent. Those of us attending 7 p.m. Mass at St. Thomas heard Father Jason Harris ask for a show of hands from those of us who were tired of Lent — tired of the fasting, tired of the sacrifice, and tired of fish on Friday. And what about the things we said we were giving up for Lent?

“How’s that going for ya?” he asked.

downloadThe point he made in his homily is the fact that following Lenten observances can sometimes challenge us; in the hustle and bustle of daily living, who hasn’t forgotten to order fish at a fast food drive-thru on any given Lenten Friday? Or maybe your work obligations made it difficult to get to an Ash Wednesday service? And maybe your Lenten intentions are still in the “intent” stage.

Lent is about more than fried fish and fasting on Fridays, or telling others what you gave up this year.

Lent is a time of spiritual reflection and preparation for the celebration of Easter — Christ’s crucifixion, death and resurrection — which define our faith as Christians. Lent is an opportunity to prepare our own spiritual renewal and rebirth. It’s a chance to take a step back and to answer the question, “Can I be a better Christian and a better person?”

While the answer may be a resounding “yes” for each of us, the path to get there isn’t always an easy one.

For each of us, the path will be different — and discerning how to improve ourselves can be part of our reflection process during Lent. And “giving up” something for Lent doesn’t have to be a food or drink you enjoy, or a promise to do an activity you should be doing more frequently (i.e. exercise). It may be as simple as a decision to treat others more kindly and with more understanding. Our maybe we can try to better live our faith by focusing on increasing our charitable works and prayerfulness.

Father Jason reminded us that the halfway point of the 40 days of Lent is an opportunity to “reboot” our Lenten efforts. We are all invited to begin anew with our Lenten efforts to prepare to celebrate Easter.

I would also recommend you check out some of the resources on the web about Lent that explain the history of Lent, as well as the history of our Lenten practices (like abstaining from meat but eating fish on Fridays, or the significance of the color purple during Lent). Even if you haven’t been participating in Lenten observances this year, you may find it interesting to learn more about why Catholics and other Christian faiths consider Lent a very special time of preparation.

Editor’s Note: The writer’s observations are based on his personal journey through the hills and hollers of his Catholic faith. Your mileage may vary.

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