When I began to think about what to write concerning Lent, I did a little digging into the historical aspects. While doing so I was reminded of the origins and customs associated with the Christian observance of Lent. That brought me to thinking about how, over the years, I have participated in Lent.
I revisited the three basic components associated with Lent: prayer, service and fasting. Growing up, during Lent, prayer was accomplished by adding a Wednesday evening service with a church dinner for families. It was a time to gather together, share a meal and worship. My memory of those evenings is still fresh in my mind even though it was 50+ years ago. Those services were a time to spend with my family (that includes church family) and reflecting on what the journey to Easter was all about.
As kids our service component was to fill a Mite Box with our allowance money to be sent to the Diocese for outreach programs. Usually the money was directed to programs that assisted children in other countries. It taught us as youngsters to look outward toward the needs of others.
Fasting is the third responsibility for Lent. Children were not required to fast but it was always interesting to me that my Catholic friends couldn’t eat meat on Fridays. I suppose by giving up something for Lent we were, in a way, fasting. Since I was not a candy eater, I would give up movies or TV time.
Slowly, I drifted away from the rituals of Lent. I sometimes went to Good Friday services but always was in church Easter Morning. I gave lip service to fasting or giving something up and I suppose I considered the work I was doing service. Over the years, the more I reflected on my life, family, community and God, the more I sought to return to a fuller participation in the journey to the cross and resurrection. And now that I have a grandson, I have come full circle in understanding how important early Christian formation for our children is. And the Collect seems to speak to my return to what I learned so many years ago.
Collect for Thursday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Almighty and most merciful God, drive from us all weakness of body, mind, and spirit; that, being restored to wholeness, we may with free hearts become what you intend us to be and accomplish what you want us to do; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen