Inspiration Report

Inspiration Report


6 Reasons to Observe Lent (Even if You’re Not Catholic)

posted by Jennifer E. Jones

Ash Wednesday is February 22nd and so begins the season of Lent. I grew up a non-denominational Christian and had little experience with Lent. In fact, I remember working at a bookstore and wondering why, one particular evening, about a quarter of all our customers had dark crosses smeared on their foreheads. What I learned later on after gaining a few wonderful Catholic friends is that it is a ritual of Ash Wednesday mass in which ashes from the previous year’s Palm Sunday are marked on the believer. It signifies mourning and repentance. Many observers spend the next 46 days until Easter Sunday fasting and praying.

So enough with the history lesson… Why observe this holiday if you’re not religious? A few reasons…

Because it will help you be a better person. What’s cool about Lent is that it falls just about the time that our New Year’s resolutions have fallen to the wayside. Use Lent as a reminder of all the things you wanted to do to make 2012 a better year. It’s your second chance.

Because grief is good. Part of Lent observance is mourning. I’m not saying that everyone should go around sad and pitiful for a month and a half, but Lent may be a good time to dig deep into your heart about your losses. One of the biggest issues people don’t even realize that they have is a lack of grief. You lost a job, a spouse, a friend, or even a period of time in your life that you enjoyed is over. Did you properly grieve it? A lot of times, we walk around still carrying the weight of something we’ve lost. Here’s something: Write loss a letter. Whatever it is that you’ve lost, even if it’s not a person, write it a letter. Express how you feel about it and how you miss the good times. Share any hurt or pain its loss has caused… Then throw it away. When you do that, you release yourself from its weight and you can truly move on.

Because repentance means saying, “I’m sorry”. Lent is a good time to apologize to anyone you’ve wronged. None of us are perfect and we’ve hurt people in our lives. It takes a brave person to admit he or she is wrong. Be that brave person this season.

Because it’s also about forgiveness, and we all need to forgive someone. Just like you need to apologize, chances are that you also need to forgive someone else’s offenses. It could be a kid who was mean to you in school more than 30 years ago or an ex-spouse who still causes you trouble. It doesn’t matter. Lent is a time of forgiveness, so let go. The bitterness you hold in your heart for that person hurts no one but yourself. Release it this season; make the conscious effort to do so (every day, if you have to).

Because fasting makes you awesome. Fasting is tough. It bends our will and puts the selfish, chidlish side of us in a corner. It requires self-discipline and a certain strength of character. Not everyone can give up something that they love. But if you really want to see exactly what you’re made up, I challenge you to give up one luxury. Just one. Coffee, Facebook, cookies, swearing, whatever you indulge in. It’s not only a good way to kick a bad habit, but it shows you just how tough you really are.

Because sacrifice is good for the soul. Many religions (in fact all of the major ones) require and/or advocate fasting. Religions that differ vastly on the creation of the world or morality issues often times agree that sacrifice is good for a human being’s spirit. It expands you somehow on the inside. Why? Because it gives your body and brain a vacation. You get to operate out of something bigger that’s on the inside.

No matter what you believe, Lent is a season for all of us. We can reflect, re-choose, and re-shape ourselves and our futures. Think about it.



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Spirit

    Observance to the things in life that cause pain, and methods to release this pain is always good.

    The only concern is fasting. This should only be done by those of good health. Children, elderly, diabetics, heart patients, etc., and those on medications that require food, should never ever fast. Even those that may only skip a meal or two a day during Lent and may just eat dinner, are causing harm if their bodies can’t take it. Consult your doctor.

    As the article suggests, replace the fasting of food with something else. Although you are already ‘giving it up for Lent’, you can add a second thing in lieu of food.

    Blessings

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Craig Dedo

    First, I need to correct a possible misconception. The observance of Lent is not just a Roman Catholic practice. Instead, Lent is observed in all of the liturgical Christian churches. The liturgical churches also observe all of the other seasons of the church year: Advent, Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, and Pentecost, along with the major traditional holidays of the church year.

    The imposition of ashes on Ash Wednesday is also not confined solely to the Roman Catholic Church. My own church, the ELCA, reinstated this practice around 25-30 years ago. According to Wikipedia, the imposition of ashes is observed not only by Roman Catholics, but also by Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and some Baptists. The Wikipedia article on Ash Wednesday also has a long list of Christian denominations that have some sort of special liturgy for Ash Wednesday.

    That said, I thoroughly enjoyed your article. Several of the points you made are things I have been thinking about for many years. All of your points are good things for Christians of all denominations to think about during Lent.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Helen

    I like it and will attempt to fast tomorrow. We’ll see about the days following tomorrow.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Ethel

    This article about Lent was very well written. It is easy for the average person to understand. Easter is the most important Feast day in the Catholic Church and therefore the time leading up to Easter should be met with prayer, fasting and sacrifice. It is good for our body and soul to observe these 40 days with reverence. Daily Mass, confession, attending a Parish Mission are just a few ways to do this.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment donna canino

    I really enjoyed you comments about lent. I want to reconnect with my church and this would be a good time.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Bernadette

    Your article was wonderfully written – especially for modern times. I hope many will view it as an inspiration for nurturing the body, mind and soul. Thank you.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Maria

    Amen! Thank you for the refresher/reminder of what this season ia about and to help us come closer to what God has asked of all of us… learning to forgive others and ourselves.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment joanne

    Thanks, that is inspiring.. Hope to make some good changes myself..

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Vivie

    My attention was caught by your headline. Please don’t be so narrow as to believe that only Catholics observe Lent. I am a Canadian Anglican (Episcopal in the U.S.) and observe Lent. As you note, it is more than just a “giving up” of something. It is a time to deeply reconnect with God through reflection and prayer and to see Jesus in every person. It is a journey that leads to the pain of Good Friday which can’t be avoided, to emerge into the joy of Jesus’ resurrection at Easter.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Pauline

    Today we plan to enter into our Service of Lent at 7pm. I take (your message)this additional knowledge with me-for the article’s reasonings are simple enough that we all can walk away with something. I plan to send this to my daughter and her family. They are new in the awareness of Lent, therefore your message will give them a greater understanding of this time of service.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Kisla

    WOW!!!!! im going to do it, I need to do it!…thank you :)

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Monica faith zakka

    Christians learn from ds.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Carol

    I was brought up as a Roman Catholic and although I do not attend church now I still have much of the teaching and belief in my heart. Throughout my childhood I observed Lent (though I have not done so as an adult) but never really thought about why I was doing it. This article has really made me thing about Lent as being something which is still pertinent to me today as an adult

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Joy

    Fasting…..Very True it helps you to get back to ‘OrdeR’!
    Even if health does not not permit phyisical fast there are oter ways to stimulate fasting e.g. Give up some rich part of the food that you always felt you cannot miss.
    may God guide us to to make this Lent truly Holy and fruitful!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment claritza Rivera

    Thank you for remind us the value of this time of the year. I love to take time with our Lord in quietness.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment lilia

    what r the things we have to do for lent?fast pray……………

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Ginni

    Inspiring, was questioning why I did give things up, it had become more of a habit. Your article has re focused me and helped in many ways. Thank you.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Ally

    Maybe you don’t this but all Christians observe Lent! It is not CATHOLIC it is CHRISTIAN, and some of us are catholic but not members of the Roman Catholic Church.

    Who are we–the people who say the NICENE CREED every day!

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