Written by cycleguy on February 26th, 2020

I want to start out this post with a confession, something you need to know right up front.

I come from a tradition that does not observe Lent. When I was in high school I would see teachers, and maybe a classmate or two, walk around with this black spot on their forehead. I remember one teacher, Mr. Bano, who had this dark spot on his forehead. I almost…almost…went up to him and said something about having a black smudge on his forehead. But I didn’t. I’m glad because he had been to his Catholic church that morning before school.  I didn’t know.  Strangely, I grew up with a large contingent of Catholic people in my school and I had no clue what was going on.

Fast forward to the early ’70s when I was in Bible college (yeah I’m that old) and I was being taught the “evils” of other beliefs-of denominations, cults (agreed), and other faiths (agreed). We were above the others in that we were not a denomination. (I now say hogwash to that theory). Anyway, I was still not taught the idea of Lent.  I also do not consider myself a part of that particular group any more. And haven’t for multiple years.

It wasn’t until I was here in Spencer that I decided to stop being ignorant of something so widespread.  I found out Lent was (supposedly) a solemn time of religious observance that began on Ash Wednesday until what is called Maundy Thursday.  For more you can read here  or here.  I still have to confess that I am not much into special day observances like Lent. Resurrection Sunday (Easter) and Christmas are different.  What I never grasped was this whole idea of giving up something for 40 days for what? One year I tried it. I gave up caffeine pop. The day it was over I had my Diet Dr. Pepper. What did it accomplish? Ummmm nothing, except I didn’t drink caffeine pop.  One year I gave up chips. That wasn’t so big of a deal. At one point I had given up fries and chips for 7 years for my health. I am now into month 15 of giving up pop (soda to some of you).  I can’t say it is a spiritual thing because it is not. It has been a health thing. I’ve been drinking water with extra lemons at restaurants (it does make the bill cheaper), but like I said there is no spiritual significance attached to it.  I don’t drink coffee at all. Can’t stand the taste of it. We are a coffee-less family, except for one member of our extended family.

All that to say (finally! you must be thinking) that I am challenging myself during this Lenten season. Not to give up something, but to add something. As much as I can, I am going to challenge myself to blog some type of Lenten thought here on this blog. I also have to say there might be some cross-pollination between this blog and my “Shadow” blog.  That nature of the beast requires some “shortcuts” along the way. I will also tell you that I will be using John Piper’s excellent little book, The Passion of Jesus Christ, as a way to “seed” my thoughts. I have read it twice before (I have the colored underlines to prove it) but it has been a couple of years since I have. I’ll give credit where credit is due.

I hope you will join me as I try this self-imposed challenge.  In fact, if you would like to get “meaty” with me and take up the challenge on your own blog, then I welcome it and will link to your post as well.


12 Comments so far ↓

  1. Ryan S. says:

    Bill, Like you I was predominately ignorant on the subject myself. Interestingly enough, my step-dad was a non-practicing Catholic, I still had no clue.

    In regards to the challenge, I am not blogging on my own blog anymore, but looking forward to your thoughts and the thoughts of others.

    • cycleguy says:

      I’m more informed Ryan but still rather ignorant. Read Victor’s comment below and that is all new to me. I look forward to any thoughts you may have.

  2. Some confusion about Catholics and lent/fasting; also about eating fish on Fridays.

    The idea of fasting during lent is to give up some sort of luxury or something we can do without, (chocolates, alcohol, expensive meals, etc …) AND give the money saved to charity. Also to pray (some more) whilst we contemplate what Christ did for us. To fast and not pray or give (some more) to charity is a waste of time and we might as well not bother. Some people abstain from such luxuries throughtout the lent period and fast (eat less) on certain days e.g. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.

    As for fish and Fridays. Catholics do not HAVE to eat fish on Friday. The tradition started years age when Catholics were encouraged by the Church not to eat meat (which then was expensive) and eat fish instead, AND give the money saved to charity. A Catholic who gives up meat on Fridays and eats lobster thermidore, or oysters Rockefeller instead is not really fasting – is he?

    At one time, the Catholic Church decreed that it was a sin to eat meat on Fridays. This is now no longer the case. Sadly, the Catholic Church is not always clear in its teachings.

    God bless.

    • cycleguy says:

      Thank you for this Victor. I know you are a Catholic from England and this information is very helpful. I was aware of the eating fish on Friday but had no clue about its meaning or origin. I like your Lobster comment even though I have never had any oysters Rockefeller do not appeal whatsoever. 🙂

  3. Linda says:

    I have observed Lent for the past 10 years or so in the way that Victor described. Not because I Catholic (you already know that) but because I was taught that one give away the money I would have spent on the item but also when I think about the item I gave up then think about what God gave up for me. This year I accepted a different challenge though. Instead of giving up something,give away something. For each day of Lent find an item I own that I don’t need but someone else could use and give it away to a charity. Something I need to do.

  4. For a long time, Bill, I’ve been more in tune with taking on a new discipline during Lent than giving something up. Anything that draws me closer to Jesus during these 40 days is of the utmost importance. And yes, the Methodist church does observe Lent, but not in the strict sense of Catholicism.

    • cycleguy says:

      Have you figured one out for this year martha? I’d be interested in knowing what you have taken on in the past years.

      • Bill, this year I’m reading Ministering Through Spiritual Gifts by Charles Stanley, and Rediscover Jesus by Matthew Kelly. Last year, I read a book on the Psalms – can’t recall the title right now. Hope you find something that will bless you!

  5. Ed says:

    I don’t observe lent, but then again I am not Catholic. But I do think that it’s a good idea to give up something for 40 days. It could be anything..just for the exercise of it. It doesn’t necessarily draw one closer to Jesus, but if you give up something for that long, then it would be something that you don’t really need in order to live…etc.

  6. Pam says:

    I like Martha’s idea of reading something that will help her grow in her faith. Similarly, I gave up something this year that was time consuming in a frivolous way and am trying to use that time to read and write more about faith.

  7. floyd says:

    I like your thoughts and take on your form of worship, Bill. In the end it’s all about the heart, not the action. Good reminder.