Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Ash Wednesday Already? It's too early to be Lent!

Every year, many of us who belong to Christian religions undertake a forty (more or less) day period of preparation for the celebration of Easter-LENT. When I was growing up in a Lutheran-Catholic household, we strictly observed the laws of fast and abstinence. It meant my Mom packed my father's lunch with only one sandwich (not two), and fruit for dessert vice cookies or cake. Daddy would forsake his one bottle of beer and pretzels in the evening (no eating between meals was allowed) and we kids (because we were under 21 and not obliged to fast) were encouraged to 'give up' something. Since my Mom never allowed us to drink soda, eat potato chips or candy anyway, there wasn't much to 'give up.' Instead, we got up at 5:00 every morning to trudge up the hill to the Catholic church for daily mass. The nuns (who were our teachers at the Catholic school) also saw us come in with our father and believe me, we earned lots of brownie points for that trip. Of course, we sat behind the nuns with our noses buried in the missal, and they didn't see us sleeping! 

As an adult, I've gotten away from the fasting's too much like dieting, and the motivation is all wrong. I try to put in more time exercising, and since my exercise involves either a 1 hour round trip drive to the pool, or at least 30-45 minutes on the eliptical down the basement, I have plenty of time for 'reading' (albeit the riding is "ear" reading from audio books.) Now that we have only 1 priest to cover 7 parishes here in Maine, daily mass is no longer an option.....

So I've started spending my Lenten time enriching my understanding of the spiritual side of life, and the role religion and its rituals plays in our lives. Yes, my husband (who is far more traditionally religious than I am) and I will still attend Ash Wednesday services; we'll still have special prayers at evening meals, and we may even participate in a lenten Bible study again this year. But I found my Lenten reading challenge last year quite fulfilling, and have decided again this year to spend the next 7 weeks making sure that at least part of my reading comes from the Lent shelf. The widget on the side has those books I've pulled from my TBR pile to read starting tonite when I will go through the introductions to all of them.

On the pile are

  • Rome has Spoken - a guide to Forgotten Papal Statements and How They have Changed through the Centuries by Maureen Fiedler and Linda Rabben editors (a signed copy that has been on my TBR shelf since publication in 1998)
  • The Woman Who Named God- Abraham's Dilemma and the Birth of Three Faiths by Charlotte Gordon (a book I won in a blog contest recently and can't wait to read)
  • Jesus The Son of Man - his words and his deeds as told and recorded by those who knew him by Kahil Gibran 
  • The Women Around Jesus by Elisabeth Molotmann-Wendel (another on the TBR shelf too long)
  • Rabbi Jesus- The Jewish Life and Teaching that Inspired Christianity by Bruce Chilton. This one I got for Christmas in 2001 and just never got (or took) time to read.
  • Nearer My God, An Autobiography of Faith by William F. Buckley Jr, - an inheritance from Auntie
  • The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton.  We own practically everything Merton ever wrote, but I've never read anything by him. So I am determined to get through this one if I don't finish any of the others.  If nothing else, it should be a great contrast to WFB.
At the end of this period I hope to have a better understanding of my heritage and perhaps some inspiration to help in the years to come.
    So what about you?  Do you do anything special for Lent?  Are you reading anything that you might not read at other times of the year?   Chime in and  let's compare notes.

    1 comment:

    1. I am only familiar with one of those books, Merton's
      I have a sort of love/hate relationship with Merton. Seven Story Mountain was the first of his that I read and perhaps my favorite. I read it first as a teenager and it really had a life changing effect on me...or at least as far as i see the world. But then I recommended it to a friend a few years ago and she hated now I hesitate to recommend it again. :-)

      I have read everything Merton wrote and I followed as his stuff got a bit weird and I think he started to lose his way..

      Ok, that is my wee Merton rant..but I hope you like the book.


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