Lent is one of those parts of keeping the traditional Church year that I know a lot of people struggle with. Even though the specific practices vary between and even within the different denominations, I think having a season with somewhat of an emphasis on penitance is helpful. However, we must remember that self-examination and turning from sin are just as important the other 325 days out of the year.
In some ways, people can turn their Lenten practices into something that is much like a New Year’s resolution. It may sound good at the time, but tends to dissolve after the first couple of weeks. This is one of the reasons why I like the emphasis that some place on spiritual/prayer practices during Lent.
This year, I decided to “fast” from engaging in discussions about some people who have done a lot of harm to family members. By refraining from bringing them up in discussions and recounting what they did, I’m feeling more of a sense of freedom from their actions. Even if others choose to bring them up, I will, with God’s help, stay away from the discussion.
I don’t feel there’s anything wrong with traditional fasting methods, as long as they aren’t treated in a legalistic way. However, there is a lot to be gained from considering more spiritually-based disciplines. Take some time and think about whether you might benefit from such practices this Lent.