240 – What we give up for Lent – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

I did not grow up in a church were we talked about Lent or giving up something for Lent.  Over the last years as I have come to some understanding of the season of Lent and of what it can mean I hear people talk not just about “giving up” but more so about adding a Lenten practice.  I had come to the opinion that was the new norm but a recent article in Christianity Today* has me thinking otherwise.

Christianity Today reports that last year nearly 20% of Americans’s observed Lent and they found 400,000 tweeting about it.  Those tweets suggested “giving up” was closely associated with Lent and they reported on the 100 most often things given up.  “The top five choices: School, chocolate, Twitter, alcohol, and social networking …”

I make no claims this list reflects how most people engage the Lenten season but it is interesting that with a few exceptions this list reflects what I heard many years ago.

Maybe a word from Bernard of Clairvaux is worth hearing when we consider a “fast” of any kind,

“If the appetite alone hath sinned, let it alone fast, and it sufficeth. But if the other members also have sinned, why should they not fast, too? … Let the eye fast from strange sights and from every wantonness, so that that which roamed in freedom in fault-doing may, abundantly humbled, be checked by penitence. Let the ear, blameably eager to listen, fast from tales and rumours, and from whatsoever is of idle import, and tendeth least to salvation. Let the tongue fast from slanders and murmurings, and from useless, vain, and scurrilous words, and sometimes also, in the seriousness of silence, even from things which may seem of essential import. Let the hand abstain from … all toils which are not imperatively necessary. But also let the soul herself abstain from all evils and from acting out her own will. For without such abstinence the other things find no favor with the Lord.”

From: Bernard of Clairvaux (1091-1153), Saint Bernard, Abbot of Clairvaux, Selections from His Letters, Meditations, Sermons, Hymns and Other Writings

It strikes me that St Bernard’s counsel is reflected in a number of ways in the list of 100 things most given up, but it also strikes me that many items in the list may not go “soul” deep as he also counsels.  But, maybe it takes time to go soul deep and discover what should be given up and what should be added.

How is Lent going with you?  Whether giving-up or adding a practice, is it touching the soul?

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

* http://www.christianitytoday.com/gleanings/2015/february/what-to-give-up-for-lent-twitter-reveals-top-100-ideas-2015.html

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