Tuesday, March 8, 2011

MARDIS GRAS!

Mardi Gras is always a fun time of the year.

There's an energy in the atmosphere that is contagious.

Today is also known as Fat Tuesday.

A glorious day of debauchery.

A day when one participates whole-heartedly in his or her vices.

The day before lent begins.

I remember in high school finding out what lent was.

I grew up baptist.

Lent wasn't even mentioned in my church.

It was something the Catholics and Anglicans did. Although, maybe that was just my family...my maternal side through my grandmother were somewhat anti-Catholic--a sentiment passed down from previous generations that were forced to escape Catholic France in the 1700s. So maybe it was just passed down to not participate in Lent. Who knows...

All I know for sure is that I've never participated in Lent.

I've done fasts before, at times other than lent time, and as far as I'm concerned, lent is basically just another fast but a wide-spread one that is mandatory to some people.

I'm going to participate this year though. But voluntarily. I know I need this time to seriously focus on my spiritual life.

No coffee, no soda, and no chocolate.

Tonight I will dine on chocolate croissants, drink a tinto de verrano (or 2), and watch Chocolat (the plot, coincidentally, is set around Lent). I may even watch it in French.

And tomorrow I will start the fast/lent. But lent isn't just about giving things up just because that's what you are supposed to do. There's a purpose behind it: To grow closer to God through sacrifice and prayer.

I recently read this:

"Fasting's great value in the Christian life is experienced as a need of the spirit to relate better to God. Fasting from food on the superficial level as important as it is, is meaningless if it doesn't lead to a deeper reality, fasting from sin. For fasting to make an impression on us needs to be connected with a sincere desire for interior purification, willingness to obey the divine will and a thoughtful solidarity toward brothers and sisters.

What is the link between fasting and prayer? Part one to pray means to communicate with God and part two it is to listen to God through the work of lectio divina which forms an opened heart.

Of the many venerable things we can do during Lent the most important aspects of Lent Mother Church proposes to us is an urgent invitation to a deeper conversion, penance and solidarity. The logic here is the awareness of what needs converting in ourselves first before we go and reconstruct the world. It is easier to think that Jesus came to save all humanity from sin and death (He did) and it is often difficult to deeply know that Christ saved me. The common good can only be reconciled to God's designs when we first have the affection for ourselves that God has for us. It's less about what the Lord did for everybody else, than it is to know in the depths our being that God wants me to be with in Him. Here is the need to be aware of the fact of the Incarnation of the Word for my personal encounter with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Hence, the evening news will tell you just where peacemaking needs to be: in our own hearts and then in the hearts of so many in the world around us. Many of the problems we face are the result of our own divided heart and lack of peace. Hopefully our Lenten observance will pave the way to a true conversion of heart assisted by penance and solidarity contributing to the work of true peacemaking in the context in which we find ourselves. As John Paul II often reminded us, we are co-responsible for the construction of peace and conversion is the first step in that regard."

Lent may originally be a Catholic sentiment, but that doesn't make it wrong.

Are you participating in lent, or, if you prefer, fasting?

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