St. Mary's Family,
David Wilcox, our Acolyte Master and one of our newest Vestry members, has written an outstanding article on the Lenten Disciplines. I commend his article to you.
“…I invite you therefore in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s Holy Word…” (
In her call to observe a holy Lent, the Church commends to us four practices that have withstood the test of time. They are prayer, fasting, self-denial, and reading and meditating on God's Holy Word. The Church commends these to us because she knows that if we take up these practices and incorporate them into our lives for the next forty days (and beyond) we will indeed keep a holy Lent and hopefully become holier people in the process. What the Church does not do however, is spell out what these practices look like when taken on by the individual Christian. So, what might these disciplines of prayer, fasting, and self-denial, and engaging with Scripture look like in your life? The Church may not offer rules that govern these practices, but she does have traditions and suggestions that you may find helpful in incorporating these things into your life.
When it comes to prayer you might want to consider something as simple as spending five minutes alone with God in silence at the beginning or end of each day or if you prefer something more active you might consider committing to saying one of the daily devotionals found on pages 135-140 of
The Book of Common Prayer.
You might consider attending a midweek celebration of the Eucharist, or you might join in the Wednesday night stations of the Cross.
For fasting you might want to consider taking up the traditional practices of reducing your food intake and not eating meat on Fridays, or you might prefer to give something up. If you spend too much time on social media, sign off for Lent. If you drink too much coffee, consider cutting back. The important thing to remember is that we don't fast to punish ourselves but rather to remind ourselves that we are dependent on God for everything we have, and to open our eyes to the needs of others.
What the exhortation calls self-denial, we might call almsgiving. The ideas are the same denying yourself in some way to benefit those in need. To incorporate this practice, you might consider volunteering your time at Downtown Outreach, or taking the money you would normally spend on what you gave up and donating it to a charitable organization, you might collect all your change for the next forty days and give that to charity.
When it comes to engaging with Scripture you might strongly consider joining the rest of the Episcopal Church in the Good Book Club which is reading the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts throughout Lent and Easter. You might spend some time during the week meditating on the lessons from the previous Sunday, or you might want to look at the daily office lectionary.
Whatever you do, try to heed the Church’s advice this Lent, incorporate these practices into your life in some way. You won’t regret it.