Concerning alms & fasting

{ Matthew 6:1-6 & 13-18}

Blessed Ash Wednesday, everyone. Today marks the official beginning of Lent, 2010.  Put away the moon pies & Mardi Gras beads as Altar Guilds in parishes throughout the world  dress altars in purple  fabric & clergy prepare the palm ashes for use in the Ash Wednesday liturgy.

I am a high-Church Anglican who loves both Lent & Advent  for entirely different reasons.  One of the reasons why I love  Lenten liturgy & Tradition so much is because my Presbyterian background  had little, if any Lent.  When I was a child, Lent to me meant fish  fries at the local volunteer fire house every Friday. My Roman Catholic grandparents  observed the ” meatless Fridays” during Lent but I never understood the reason behind  this practice & surely did not know anything about fasting.   Fish fries were, at least according to my  child-self, were merely social occasions.

Today’s Gospel lesson has to do with what Jesus teaches about giving alms.   As we journey with each other & Our Lord towards Jerusalem, let us be mindful of  our Lenten practices. 

As a Benedictine oblate, I am required to submit a Lenten Rule to my Abbot every Lent, detailing what spiritual practices & service I will do in the name of Christ as part of the Lenten discipline we catholic Christians observe. 

Matthew’s Gospel lesson for today also  discusses fasting & how we Christians are to approach our Lenten fasts.  Fasting is a personal discipline which should be between  the Christian & God. The Gospel tells us specifically that we are not to fast with sad minds & with half-a-heart nor is fasting supposed to be about  gaining  piety points with God.

 Anglicans are not * required* to fast, but this part of our Church Tradition is one which I have found  brings me closer to Christ.  Small sacrifices during Lent also makes me more aware of how blessed we westerners are compared to other parts of the world. 

 I have been more mindful about my giving habits during Lent & not * just* mindful of  my monetary tithing. During this season I shift  my focus to  becoming more giving of myself. Lent is not really about  going without, but  realizing how much we Christians have  as heirs with Christ.


Ash Wednesday 2010

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