Lent is upon us. Beginning tomorrow, Christians will spend 40 days in fasting and prayer pondering the depth of Jesus’s sacrifice for mankind. For Catholics fasting is pretty loose. We are asked to refrain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent. For many Catholics, Friday evenings are spent attending parish sponsored fish dinners. In my husband’s home town of Omaha, the fish dinners are synonymous with free flowing beer and conversation. If fasting is truly designed to promote a greater communion with God, this practice doesn’t cut it.
In addition to refraining from the consumption of meat, Catholics are mandated to “fast” on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday by consuming only one full meal and two smaller meals. We must also abstain from food and beverages in between meals on these two days. I can’t help but wonder how those of the Muslim faith view the Catholic notion of fasting. Muslims are a serious bunch when it comes to fasting. They spend the month of Ramadan fasting from sunrise to sunset. I won’t even get into the practice of praying 5x per day, Catholics would never go along with that.
Our local Archbishop has been known to wave the fasting requirement when St. Patrick’s day has fallen on Ash Wednesday or on a Friday during Lent. The Catholic church asks it’s members to practice the teachings faithfully, unless it is St. Patrick’s day. Really? Holy days of obligation are waived if they fall on a Saturday or a Monday. If the holy day is important enough to proclaim it a day of obligation, then that obligation should not be waived regardless of the day it falls on. But I digress.
The original point of my post was to reflect on the upcoming Lenten season, not to bash the Catholic church. As I prepare myself for the Lenten season, I have pondered many different ways to observe the time. Each year I have the best of intentions. I tell myself that I will go to stations every Friday and set aside time each day for prayer. Then before I know it Palm Sunday is upon me and I have done none of the above. This year I came up with the idea of refraining from using my computer except for email and school work. This is huge.
The time I spend on my laptop has grown exponentially over the past year. Not only do I write a blog, but I follow several other blogs. I check Facebook several times per day and my blog stats daily. I recently finished reading a book that teaches Buddhist meditation as a method for understanding scripture more clearly. I plan to take the time that I usually spend surfing the net to dabble in meditation. I am even going to purchase a singing bowl to aid in my practice.
So starting tomorrow I am officially unplugged. Wish me luck or more importantly, keep me in your prayers and I will do the same.