Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mama Bean missed the point of Lent. Onwards and upwards

Friday's Link Love included this video of Father Barron explaining Lent. He explains the scriptural introduction to Lent is Jesus' temptation in the desert. Jesus resists the three basic types of temptation: for sensual pleasure, for glory, and for power. Satan's goal is to divert Jesus away from God, for him to desire something other than God. During Lent, we imitate this trial, we confront Satan in our own figurative desert. Before Easter, we want to affirm our focus on God.

This is the general idea behind giving something up for Lent: you sacrifice something, feel its absence in your life, and fill up the space with God. Realizing how much we are tempted by this little thing we've given up, seeing how much we can desire it, shows us how easily our faith can be sidetracked. And when we resist the temptation, it is by God's strength, to remind us of his grace. Before Easter, we want to focus especially on his grace.

This is the first year I've ever given something up, and honestly, I didn't feel I was getting much out of it. Of the two commitments, I've only really stuck with the not-drinking-anything-but-water thing. I couldn't keep up with restricting my internet use after 6 pm every day. I whined about how I couldn't do the things I wanted to do, or have the drinks I wanted to drink, waiting for God to Show Up and Reveal the great Meaning of it All. I was waiting passively for God to fill up the space, instead of actively seeking after him.

Papa Bean committed to the full lenten deal: prayer, alms-giving and sacrifice. All three behaviours helped him be more actively engaged in observing the lenten season. Seeing this video showed me how much I had missed the point. I couldn't just sit back and wait for Lent to happen to me. I needed to be reading, and praying, and actively engaging in the process. I feel bad about it now, but I know I have next year to do better.

Because I grew up in a mainline Protestant church, I never really learned about the liturgical year (or Church Calendar) which is probably why I never did the Lent thing. It was a Catholic deal. Over the past couple years, and primarily with Papa Bean's new pastor schooling, we've really come to appreciate the higher churches' tradition and rich symbolism. There is meaning and wisdom behind each rite and ceremony, the system creates opportunities and celebrations that bring you closer to God. I can see how growing up in the Catholic church, one might feel the Pomp and Circumstance gets a little legalistic; "do these things to be a good Catholic, and you will be blessed and get into Heaven." From my perspective outside the Catholic church, I see a set of meaningful tools in an elegant system of worship. All sects and denominations have a methodology to their worship, but I do see some that work so hard to emphasize grace by rejecting tradition, they've lost a feeling of Substance, the symbols fall flat.

For whatever reason, my faith journey thus far has brought me to this place of deep appreciation for the elegance of liturgy, and I want to explore it further. I think my experience with Lent is symptomatic of how I treat my faith in general; I wait for God to show up, instead of pursuing him. To that end, I will be making an Easter commitment, similar to what one might make during Lent. I will be reading the lectionary for the season, and actively engaging with it through writing and meditation/prayer.

I didn't even know Easter was an entire season until this year. The three days traditionally called Easter is actually a separate liturgical entity called the Easter/Paschal Triduum. The next fifty days is the true Season of Easter. We don't just celebrate the resurrection for one day, we do it for seven weeks. And the celebration culminates in Pentecost, which marks the birth of the Church. I just love the idea of really dwelling in the Resurrection, and participating Now in the History of my Faith, and carrying that tradition forward. It tickles my soul.

And that concludes our Sunday School lesson for today, lol.


  1. Lent: not just for Catholics any more! I believe the lenten season is a part of all mainline Protestant denominations (because in my parlance, 'mainline' denotes those churches belonging to a traditional sect, whether Anglican, United, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Baptist, etc., whereas your church was Evangelical). It's also a part of the Orthodox church year, though their Easter dates usually don't coincide with Protestant ones.
    I think that's the deal, anyway.
    And hey, maybe Easter will surprise you and the relief of being out of Lent will feel like you experienced something after all!

  2. Oops, and here I've been using mainline incorrectly all these years. Thank-you K and wikipedia for clearing that up.

    Definitely prepared for relief. And coffee. Ready for coffee.

  3. i just love coffee so much