Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Losing my LENT Virginity

4:03 PM
I'll admit it. I'm a Lent virgin. I've never done it before. I grew up Protestant, and just assumed it was only a Catholic tradition. I didn't really understand too much about it, and never really gave it too much thought every year. But a few years ago, as my spiritual journey began to change and grow, I heard a pastor I truly respect do a series through Lent, and he was Protestant like me! So it got me thinking about Easter...and the season leading into Easter...and Jesus' fast & temptation in the desert before beginning his earthly ministry. And I started thinking this is something I want to do this year. To me, Easter is just as symbolic as Christmas to my faith. And I love that the weeks leading into Easter are spent fasting, reflecting, and in prayer, whereas the weeks leading into Christmas are spent shopping, decorating, and acquiring debt. There's just something so simplistic about the season of Lent and Easter.

My fast for Lent is unique. I tried to think about what it is that keeps me most from experiencing God daily. It didn't take long to come up with that list, sad to say. But the biggest thing is definitely my media consumption. I spend a lot of my day camped out in front of my Macbook watching the 11-13 TV shows I follow each week, and then an occasional movie when I have no TV to follow. So I've chosen to eliminate all the solitary media time. Time I could put into Bible study, prayer, being with my family, or just interacting with the 3-dimensional world. This will be a challenge, as so many of my shows are going into sweeps soon and I'll fall way behind. But in reality, I'm missing out on nothing, but losing hours to my Macbook. I'm hoping after this, I can curb my TV watching habits, and emerge with less shows I religiously watch, and have a more well-rounded media habit. Yes, I realize this particular fast sounds very nit-picking, as I'm not fasting media across the board. It leaves the door open to still watch TV with friends and family. And the reason I purposely did that was because I never watch TV with friends and family! That way I don't miss out on chances for community, and am being pro-active about not obsessively watching TV. I have 2 different books on fasting I'm trying to decide between to read during Lent. Maybe I'll just read both.

I also went to my first Catholic mass today. I picked an Ash Wednesday mass service to get the whole Lent experience and I'm so glad did. The Catholic church service is filled with tradition, and ritual, and a beauty about it all. I couldn't help but think of the history of it all. My church, while I love it, feels very modern and contemporary. At mass, I felt that I was worshipping the same way as believers had worshipped for hundreds of years. I received the ash on my forehead and it just felt symbolic. Like I was being marked as someone set apart for God's work. Everything from the readings to the songs to the prayers were Lent-focused. It was a great jumping off point for this Lent experience I'm having. So, halfway through my first day, I have yet to watch anything! So far, so good. 44 days to go...

About the author

Joy Muldoon is a full-time missionary and part-time blogger. Read about her travels, adventures, and missions here!