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« Daily Wisdom from Oswald Chambers | Main | Lenten Reflections: Repentance, Confession, and Forgiveness, Day One »

February 25, 2009

A Primer for Lent

As a neophyte to the liturgical calendar, I was honored when my pastor asked me to compose a devotional on Lent. As I researched the observance, I stumbled across some excellent "textbooks" on the subject from those whose eyes have had a little longer to adjust to the bright and rich world of Christian tradition. If you, too, need a primer for Lent, here are a few excellent places to start:

  • "On Keeping a Holy Lent" by Craig Higgins provides a basic history of Lent and casts a vision for how we can make the observance count in a modern context
  • Soul Feast by Marjorie Thompson peers into the paradox of Lent: that true fasting can lead to richer feasting
  • "Nothing for Lent" is a 40-day devotional by Prison Fellowship International that connects the sorrow and joy of Lent to the life that can spring forth in prison.

And, if you're interested in my stab on the topic, you can read it here at Common Grounds Online.

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In one of my college classes an assignment was to read "The Brothers Karamazov". (Yes, the whole thing.) A classmate of mine made the remark that the highly ascetic monk Father Ferapont - a minor character in the book who prayed constantly, lived in a shack at the monastery, had made a vow of silence and ate only bread and water - was "the kind of person who would give up his hair shirt for Lent".

Since I had never experienced Lent, this went completely over my head.

So I'm grateful, Zoe, to finally get the point of that long-ago joke, and to expand my understanding of this practice. Thank you.

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