Friday, March 17, 2006

Lent and the "Giving Up."

Lent. Lent. Lent. It comes and I try to give up stuff. Lent is supposed to be about soul searching and sacrifice and in many ways a renewal. This year I decided to give up chocolate. I was doing well until my child bought home fnudraiser candy. World's finest chocolate. Why? Just to torture me. I held off for as long as I could and then ate one. Then the next day I had another. I just had another today. Three in about a week and a half's time. That is also $3.00 that I now owe her.

But no more. As punishment I just went out and bought a mini trampuline. I need to jump away those calories from those candy bars. I have my eye on a regular bike. I have not had one since I was a child. Lent in the biblical sense refers to fasting. Now aways I do not think most people really fast. We just try to eliminate a few luxury things out of our diet. A little background on that:

  • Similarly, Jesus told us that when we fast (not if) we are not to make a show of it, like hypocrites do. A fast is different from a hunger strike: a fast is a personal act of devotion to God, while a hunger strike is a public act most often used to shine a spotlight on injustice. A fast is also different from anorexia nervosa: it is disciplined diet, not total abstention from food. During a religious fast, you still eat, you just abstain from certain foodstuffs. Traditionally, people have fasted by eliminating luxury items from their diets, such as meats. You could have a fast that consists of eating whatever you want, but drinking only water. Orthodox Christians recognize five levels of fasting:
  • Abstaining from meat
  • Abstaining from meat, eggs, milk, butter, and cheese
  • Abstaining from meat, eggs, milk, butter, cheese, and fish
  • Abstaining from meat, eggs, milk, butter, cheese, fish, oil, and wine
  • Abstaining from all foods and beverages except bread, water, juices, honey, and nuts.
  • Note that the fifth and strictest level comes close to describing John the Baptist’s diet, and it is may very well have been the fast that Jesus undertook for forty days in the wilderness—except for the bread. (Christians reenact this retreat during Lent.)
  • To fast, just omit an item or two from your diet—something that you would normally eat during the course of the day. Every time you get an appetite for those items, you will be reminded of your fast and that will remind you of the reason for your fast, and you can pray instead of eating. This can have immense spiritual benefit. You are simply using your belly as a spiritual snooze-alarm.

You can chase a butterfly all over the field and never catch it. But if you sit quietly in the grass it will come and sit on your shoulder.

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