Sunday, February 23, 2014

23 February: 2nd Sunday of Shrovetid

The theme for the 2nd Sunday of Shrovetide, in accordance with our Pre-Lenten activities is prayer, or piety.  Piety is a very important in the life of a Christian, and our prayer life, like our study of the Bible will help determine what kind of Christian we are.  Piety, in part is a response to reading the written word, but is also a response to the world around us.

As with studying the Bible, our goal is to improve our Christian life, by starting where we were.  Before we decide what we are going to do for Lent, we need to analyse our lives now, and see where we are.

There are at least two aspects of prayer that are all but forgotten in western Christianity outside of the monastery, silence and fasting.  Silence should be part of our study, and it should be part of our prayer life.  Silence allows us to reflect on our own prayers, and on our readings, and also gives God a chance to talk to us.  In today's modern society, our lives are full on noise, TV, radio, telephones, texting, internet and others, and we rarely take time to reflect.  We suggest that for every minute you spend reading the Bible, your should spend a minute reflecting on what you read.  Likewise, after praying, we should reflect on our prayers and the prayers of others in order to listen to the Lord's voice.   After all, he might expect you to be the answer to someone's prayer.  In addition, before attending church services, and before praying we should take a bit of time in silence to centre our thoughts on Jesus.

Fasting too, as mentioned above is an aspect frequently forgotten in the western church outside of monasteries.  Primitive Christians as near as we can tell fasted every Wednesday and Friday, and in my life time members of the Roman Catholic church fasted from midnight till taking communion. 

How then, should we fast.  Here, we are not quite so much doing an exercise to train us for the future, but something for all of Lent.  Traditionally, Christians did not eat meat during Lent (not counting Sundays, which are feast days).  Shrove Tuesday, also called Fat Tuesday, because that was the day lard was cleaned out of the house (often by making pancakes using the lard), so there would be no meat in the house.  We leave it up to your conscience as to how much you would like to fast for Lent.  We would hope that once the Fifty Days of Easter are over that all would fast or abstain from meat on Wednesdays and Fridays. 

We should also look at other aspects of piety, which should include public prayers, private prayers and prayers with your family.   We would gladly send materials for use in family and private prayers.  Again, look at where your are, and build on that.  If your prayer life is non-existent, then start slow.  Give yourself a chance to succeed.  Too many people lay down a stiff round of daily prayer and are unable to complete it.  Remember, public worship is also very important.  If you are in a church that practices weekly communion, that should be an important part of your day as well.

The success of your Lent, will usually have to do with how much you plan in advance.

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