Kind of a different post from me today – I thought I’d share a bit about Lent and what it means to me.
As everyone probably knows, ‘Pancake Day’/Shrove Tuesday is today. This was typically a time when people would use up all the eggs and fats they had to make pancakes before the Lenten fast began. The day after Shrove Tuesday is Ash Wednesday which marks the beginning of Lent. On Ash Wednesday, Catholics will go to Church and receive ashes on our foreheads. These are to remind us that we are sinners and to say that we will use Lent to repent and grow closer to God so we can celebrate Easter more fully.
There are three key aspects of Lent: prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
This is fairly straightforward really – making sure that we take time to pray and to offer our days and our sacrifices to God. This pillar is really about making sure that we spend time with God everyday.
Fasting is a little more open to interpretation. This is basically just going without something! Whether it be social media, chocolate, alcohol or gossiping etc, there is plenty of choice for things in our lives that we can give up for Lent. When we give something up, we can offer the sacrifice to God and that helps us to focus on Him in our everyday lives.
This is just being charitable and giving of yourself to others. We don’t have to donate everything we own during Lent, but we should go the extra mile to help other people. For example: doing someone else’s washing up for them in halls; going without a takeaway every week and donating the money to a charity; proofreading your friend’s work (just be careful of plagiarism issues!!!) or even lending a friend some change for the bus and not asking for it back. Anything that involves going out of our way to help other people is an act of giving!
Prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We do these three things to remember Jesus spending forty days and forty nights in the wilderness where he was tempted by the devil. The main focus of Lent is the build up to the amazing celebration of Easter which happens at the end of Lent.
I recently read this awesome article on the Youth2000 blog that has some great tips and advice for Lent. Hearing the advice from the post’s contributors has really inspired me to make sure that whatever I decide to do this Lent, I do it for the right reasons and, as the article says that it is “making room for God” rather than just a chore-like emptying.
How do I get involved in Lent?
It’s really easy to ‘do Lent’! If you look at each of the pillars of Lent, think about how you could do each one. It’s up to each one of us how much we want to do. There are also many ways online to get involved.
For example, there is a new, student-led initiative called UniLent where students across the UK will be sharing thoughts, reflections etc each day of Lent with something to encourage us every day. You can find more about that here. UniLent is also on Instagram and Twitter, so if you decide to give up one form of social media for Lent, you can still get involved on other platforms!
Something else you could get involved with is the 40acts Generosity Challenge from the Christian charity Stewardship. Every day, you get a short email that gives you a challenge for the day. It is a really great way to encourage you to do something extra in your day and the challenges vary massively each day so every day of Lent is different! You can find out about that here.
A great thing about both these initiatives is that they are not specifically for any particular denomination, or even faith. Whether you have a strong faith or whatever your religious belief, these initiatives are just a great way to encourage yourself to be more generous for the next 40 days!
I hope this is your best Lent yet!
Until next time,