“Giving up” or GAINING at Lent?

“What are you giving up for Lent?”

Most people that I know will answer that question this way:

“Nothing.  I’m not Catholic.”

Now I don’t necessarily believe that a Christian person must give up something for Lent or anything like that, but that answer seems to indicate that there is some lack of understanding of what Lent is all about.  It is not simply a meaningless ritual (well, maybe it is for some), but the intention is:

  • Coming to the end of yourself
  • Opening ourselves to the world God longs to bring into being
  • Starting a new beginning with God
  • Planting God’s compassion deep within us
  • Challenging our assumptions, anger, and prejudices

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t really just sound like a “Catholic” thing to me.

I decided to do something special for Lent this year…I’ll be following the “Lenten Experience Calendar.” Don’t worr,y for you fundamentalists, it’s not some quasi spiritual/neo-Pentecostal thing 🙂  It’s just a bunch of things to do in your regular day-to-day life in order to experience the Lord for yourself in your daily actions over the 40-day Lenten season.

Interestingly, the only one I balked at was day #1: Ash Wednesday.  It reads, “Have an ash cross put on your forehead.”

OK.  That’s where I said: “Uh…but I’m not Catholic.”  And…I think the writer of that calendar (who isn’t Catholic either) would say, “Uh…so?”

Don’t worry, the rest of the 40 days is filled up with cool stuff like:

  • Don’t text today—just call
  • Fast from coffee, soda, or alcohol
  • Buy someone’s coffee or lunch anonymously

So, if you see me tomorrow, you’ll probably see that on my forehead.  Check that calendar out for Lent (starts tomorrow!) and see what you think!

Take care,



5 responses to ““Giving up” or GAINING at Lent?

  1. You could stop by for a shampoo and I could wash it off… on accident. I seem to do that to someone every year.

  2. I’ll join you~ I grew up Catholic & have thought of the ashes today 🙂 going to make it 40 days of giving of myself as the Lord leads the way. Will follow the calender. Thanks for your insight!

  3. Very cool calendar idea!

  4. Jonathan-

    You *are* (small-c) catholic. The word catholic means “universal” and all we Christians are part of Christ’s body, the universal chruch. You’re just not *Roman* Catholic.

    Also, many Protestant traditions (Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopal) also celebrate Lent complete with ashes. It can be part of a significant spiritual journey.

    So don’t be shy, you’re in good protestant catholic company!

  5. Wow.
    I am a Roman Catholic and have many Roman Catholic friends that listen to the River.
    Fasting, sacrificting, or dying to oneself is a beautiful tradition, It can be a very powerful experience and many faith traditions and the Church Fathers have found the practice spiritually enilightening.

    The idea is that the 40 days leading to Easter is about conversion and turning our lives over to Christ- more completely and our practices of fasting, increased prayer and almsgiving are a tool to help us get there.

    Good luck on your journey and Happy Lent.

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