Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Starting Lent 2012

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Lent is the liturgical season in the Catholic Church (also observed in other Christian Churches) in preparation for Easter. Typically, people prepare through three activities: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

Prayer is fairly obvious. For this Lent, I will be praying Morning and Evening Prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours (also known as the Divine Office). I have prayed the hours on and off for many, many years. Starting again is a little daunting, mostly because finding time will be challenging. I'll be getting up earlier for the morning prayers, so that is covered. Fitting evening prayers into the routine will be tougher. I plan to say them during bath time; failing that (e.g. on the rare occasions that I give the baths), I will say them after the children go to bed.

Fasting is typically refraining from eating the usual amount of food, though I have heard people who fast from reading fiction or from television or from Internet. This category is where the typical "I gave up X for Lent" would fall. I'm going to fast on Fridays (the food sort of fasting) and not have snacks after dinner for the rest of the week (a habit I indulge in far too often).

The final preparation is almsgiving, which is a quaint way of saying, "Giving to the poor." We've made a sort of piggy bank that the kids will put money in each night for the poor. Also, we will start giving to church more robustly. Back in America, we used direct withdrawal for donating to our local parish but haven't set that up here, mostly because we don't have a British bank account. The children have pretty steadily put coins in the collection; we should be doing more.

Another thing for Lent is reading. I'm still working my way through books on the Psalms (just finished C. S. Lewis's book, review coming soon) and I plan to re-read Thomas More's The Sadness of Christ. I have some more of Benedict XVI's Wednesday teachings on the Doctors of the Church and the Great Teachers. I may have more reading than time to read, which is my unending problem.

I'll also do some more spiritual viewing. Thanks to Just a Catholic Dad, I know about a miniseries on Catholicism that the BBC is showing this Lent. I'll watch that. Since we're here in the UK, I'll revisit A Man for All Seasons (more Thomas More!) and Becket. If you want better recommendations, check out Steven Greydanus's list at Decent Films Guide. A few of those are in my collection and I hope to revisit them as well.

It will be a busy Lent in our home, hopefully a joyous one!

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