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.

Amen.

Ash Wednesday 2010

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