Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Redefining Lent

In an interesting article from today's local paper, several people from a variety of denominations talk about the discovery or rediscovery of the devotions associated with Lent.

From a Methodist pastor whose parishioners are attempting to go through Lent without buying anything new: "We're trying to use Nothing New Lent as a chance for reflection — reflection on the choices we make, the things that are of value to us and ways to live more responsibly. So the idea is not to go on a big shopping spree right after Easter but, after Lent, to think about, 'What did I learn about myself' and incorporate that into how we live life in general.' "

From a Presbyterian church organist:
"I try to do active, out-of-the-way kindnesses during Lent," Handford said. "Like when one of my students came into my office, I noticed he was wearing a pair of jeans with one of the knees ripped out. I told him I thought that he looked cold, and he admitted he was really, really cold, but that he couldn't afford to buy a new pair of pants. So I sent him a Gap gift card anonymously."

From a Baptist who has been inspired by his sister:
After she began attending more liturgical churches while in graduate school on the East Coast, she came home for spring break and Boyett noticed the coffee drinker now made herself green tea in the mornings. When I asked her about it, she said, 'I'm observing Lent and coffee is what I gave up this year,'" Boyett says. "I was intrigued and thought, 'I'm going to try it, too.' "

Fortunately, Catholics are represented in the article also:

-- Listen to a series of free Lenten Radio Retreats by U.S. Catholic bishops online (or download them onto your iPod or MP3 player) at

-- Buy a daily Lent devotional, such as "Living the Days of Lent 2008" by the Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth (Paulist Press).

-- Log onto the Web site of St. John's Abbey to read a daily devotional:

-- Take a walk in silence around the lakes and use the time to pray, suggests the Rev. Peter Laird, vice rector at the St. Paul Seminary School of Divinity of the University of St. Thomas.

Hmmm ... prayer, fasting and almsgiving - it might just catch on!

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