Posted originally on CTH on February 22, 2023 | Menagerie
Even now, says the LORD,
return to me with your whole heart,
with fasting, and weeping, and mourning;
Rend your hearts, not your garments,
and return to the LORD, your God.
For gracious and merciful is he,
slow to anger, rich in kindness,
and relenting in punishment.
Perhaps he will again relent
and leave behind him a blessing,
Offerings and libations
for the LORD, your God.
Blow the trumpet in Zion!
proclaim a fast,
call an assembly;
Gather the people,
notify the congregation;
Assemble the elders,
gather the children
and the infants at the breast;
Let the bridegroom quit his room
and the bride her chamber.
Between the porch and the altar
let the priests, the ministers of the LORD, weep,
And say, “Spare, O LORD, your people,
and make not your heritage a reproach,
with the nations ruling over them!
Why should they say among the peoples,
‘Where is their God?’”
Then the LORD was stirred to concern for his land
and took pity on his people.
Many people associate the season of Lent with Catholicism, but that no longer holds true. Many other churches and people are choosing to observe the forty days (not including Sundays) before Easter. Lent is a time of penance, of choosing to look closely at our lives and invite the Holy Spirit in to help us clean house.
Often we will choose to give up something, a sacrifice we offer to the Lord, but also something we use as a way to remind us to be more holy, more dependent on God. We fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and we abstain from meat on Fridays as well, although many Catholics do not understand that we still have an obligation to fast on Fridays or substitute another penitential practice year round. We are called to give alms during Lent.
These practices are meant to help us prepare to meet Jesus on Easter Sunday, having walked these six weeks with him toward Calvary, fasting as he fasted in the desert, carrying our cross as he carried his, doing the will of the Father as Jesus taught us so well.
Like Mary, we hope to find ourselves at the foot of the cross on Good Friday, still with our Savior, looking with a more hopeful and receptive heart toward the Resurrection.
If you are not a member of a church, or your particular church does not have any Ash Wednesday service, you are welcome to participate at any Catholic Church. You do not have to be Catholic to attend the service or receive the ashes. I’m sure that is true of other denominations as well.
Catholics, and many other Protestant denominations follow a liturgical calendar, which I find to be of great aid to me daily and yearly in my attempt to follow Jesus. Advent begins our new Church year, and we look forward to the birth of Jesus. We then celebrate Christmas for an Octave, and the season ends with Epiphany. Soon after comes Lent, and we cast our eyes toward Holy Week, and the death, and Resurrection, and we again spend eight days, another Octave, celebrating Easter. After Pentecost comes the long stretch of what the Church call Ordinary Time before we start again with Advent.
I find this yearly journey helps me keep an eye on where I am going. It helps me not just tread water spiritually, but make progress, and to more “live out” the life of Christ.
If your church has special services today or during Lent, please tell us about it, especially if visitors are welcome to participate. And don’t forget the Knights of Columbus fish fry on Fridays! Usually for five or six bucks you’ll get a get supper and help the Knights raise money for their charitable causes.
This post, and all of those you will encounter during Lent and Easter are meant to encourage us in our worship. If you choose not to worship, are not Christian, or have a grudge against specific faiths such as Catholicism , there are many forums online where you can debate or condemn. This is not one of them, and I will without any second chances ban anyone who breaks that rule. I’m sorry that this has become a necessary warning, but it has.