As we approach Ash Wednesday, we recall that our Lenten practice should include prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. What if we practiced “a different kind of Lent” this year? What if, in addition to verbal prayer. Liturgy, and reading Scripture, we committed to silent prayer? We would simply sit still in the presence of Christ in our hearts, keep watch on our breath and let go of our thoughts, as well as our emotional attachment to those thoughts. Twenty to thirty minutes of such silent meditation practice every morning and evening would deepen our faith in the Savior on whom we rely for every breath, the ground of our very being, the one who loves us enough to die for us. Is an hour a day too much to offer in return? “Could you not keep watch for one hour?” (Mark 14:37).
What about a different type of fasting—from bickering, complaining, criticizing, gossiping, and judging the words and actions of others? That’s much harder to give up than chocolate, ice cream, or alcohol! We could fast from chewing on the latest scandal, judging people’s motivations, making sweeping condemnations, or spreading lies and fake news. We might even fast from our addictive online news sources, from social networks and newspapers. The world would go on without us knowing about it for forty days. Meanwhile, we would become mentally and emotionally free to send out light, peace, and hope to heal the world from the depths of our silent prayer.
As for almsgiving, perhaps we could care for the poor and persecuted in a special way during this Lenten season. What about a more hands-on approach than just sending a check to our favorite charity or giving a cash handout to a homeless person? What about volunteering for an hour or two a week to offer some service to the needy and marginalized in our community? Our love and compassion could touch many lives and really make a difference this Lent. The need is so great “and the laborers are few” (Luke 10:2).
Notice that silencing our thoughts, speaking only positive words of encouragement, and reaching out to help those in need, express the quality of our faith, hope, and love. And these are precisely the virtues that all Lenten practices are meant to increase. Please let us hear your own thoughts and suggestions for a “different kind of Lent.”
All text copyrighted © 2013-2018 by Veronica Mary Rolf. All rights reserved. No copying or reprints allowed without the express permission of the Author.