Friday, March 15, 2013

Lent: Beyond Requirement to the Open Arms of Jesus

Last month I started a Friday series about the reasons we abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Fridays during Lent. The point was to just point out the very basics and to give us something deeper to contemplate.

We are nearing the completion of our Lenten journey, and I think there's plenty of material to think about, so let's just re-visit the basics of the series. I've linked the titles back to each post as well.

What Do You Mean You Don't Eat No Meat During Lent!?

In the simplest sense, abstaining from meat is a very small SACRIFICE which reminds us of THE sacrifice of Jesus on the cross.

Where's the Beef?

Abstaining from meat is a form of PENANCE While abstaining is a reminder to us of the need for penance in our lives, ultimately Jesus calls us to penance which is prompted by, preceded by the interior conversion. Rightly ordered, it is the interior which prompts the exterior.

Feasting on Simplicity

Abstaining from meat is a way to practice SIMPLICITYProperly approached, abstaining from meat should be offered along with contemplative prayer. Contemplative prayer focuses our attention on Heavenly things, fixing our eyes, our hearts on Jesus so that we can hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Assessing Ascesis

Abstaining from meat is a way to practice ASCETICISMIt's true that the Church has put a requirement upon us during Lent. However, as previously stated, it is not intended to impose authority upon us, but to help us to ascend to this higher good, to choose to go beyond requirement and to choose for one's self.
In all of these instances that I have been writing about, we are practicing something, and practice is a good word here. We are practicing something, learning that there is a deeper meaning to what we are doing. We should be recognizing that abstaining from meat is a simple way toward understanding how to direct other things in our lives, other actions, even our very selves toward God. 

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