Wikipedia describes the traditional purpose of Lent as “the preparation of the believer through prayer, repentance, alms giving and self-denial for the annual commemoration during Holy Week of the death and resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events linked to the Passion of Christ and culminates in Easter.” Throughout the centuries, Lent (which became an official practice of the church in the third century) has become associated with fasting from certain foods (or all foods) as well as abstaining from certain activities. While the Catholic church has continued to encourage these rituals, many Protestant churches have claimed their liberty in Christ by extricating from the church calendar the Lenten season altogether, proclaiming that all things are permissible to the believer (according to Paul’s writings).
True! All things are permissible, but all things are not beneficial…and some of the practices of the ancient Christian church, now cast off, had beneficial effects in the life of the believer. In coming posts we’ll look at some of these practices and how they might serve to enrich our spiritual lives today.