The mystery and mastery of Lent
The nights are growing shorter and the days are getting longer, to the delight of many, unless you own stock in the electric company. Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, has already come and gone, and spring, Easter, bright daffodils and balmy weather aren't far behind. I was surprised to learn that Ash Wednesday, not Easter, has the second highest church attendance after Christmas, according to priests across the globe.
So how do people observe Lent, and why? One of my friends, in honor of Lent, has given up ice cream, pop and Fritos, perhaps partially in an effort to lose weight. Another friend can't seem to understand why we turn up our appetites on Fat Tuesday and wear strings of fake beads, then the next day we turn our appetites down and shun the beads. The Pope recently stated that whatever we decide to do for Lent, it should be for the advantage of others. Whatever it is, choose to help others. First recognize and see their suffering, then give the gift of comfort, help or ease, in the most suitable form per the situation.
The word Lent is Anglo-Saxon for the word spring, which comes from the verb meaning to lengthen, aptly describing the days of spring as they grow longer. This annual season of fasting, prayer, and penitence has been observed by the Western Church ever since the first century after Christ. Although, in more recent times it has been observed for 40 days, to commemorate the time Jesus spent 40 days apart in the desert.
There are six Sundays in Lent, but they are not considered a part of Lent, because Sundays are considered feast days. Here we see that fasting and feasting go hand in hand. The last week in Lent is termed Holy Week, it has within it Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
If we move away from the focus on food, we can nourish our minds and allow Lent to be a time of spiritual growth, a time of higher-minded unfolding. Realizing our true self, our Oneness with our Creator, we can merge our mind with God-mind, which can elevate us to a higher, purer, more heavenly place. The place of overcoming is in the mind of man. We can abstain from error thinking, casting out ideas like – we aren't good enough, we aren't worthy, we are lacking in some way. We can feast on spiritual truths until it becomes ingrained within our consciousness, or second nature.
At Unity Spiritual Center of Westlake, we will be focusing on fasting from error thought, and feasting on Truth. Our Lenten journey will finish with the day-long Good Friday Experience from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. There will be nine stations to reflect on, and find your life's personal choices along the way with Jesus' journey to the cross. Unity of Westlake is located at 23855 Detroit Road.
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