25 February 2009

Boot Camp

I was talking to a friend tonight about Lent, and a most important point came up that I think I've failed to mention here before. Lent is NOT about making changes to your life for six weeks and then reverting to your previous ways come Easter. That's exactly wrong. Lent is about making changes that become HABITUAL (six weeks worth) and are intended to strengthen your discipline in those areas. Think of it as a boot camp. You're being trained in the disciplines of fasting, prayer, almsgiving so that these become EVER GREATER parts of your walk with God. And because you do this all under God's grace, you are set free from fretting that if you fail, God won't love you or some such. Rubbish. His love in Christ for you is already unshakeable. God's not impressed by the disciplines; YOU need them, not He. They are blessings for you. So don't think of Lent as temporary fix, but as life-transforming, habit-forming boot-camp for life in the Church Militant.


Bryce P Wandrey said...

How does this understanding of the Lenten fast fit with the idea that once Lent is over, that which you have given up, now tastes or feels sweeter than ever before? That you have come to a greater appreciation and understanding for that which you sacrificed for 40 days? I thought, for example, the point of giving up meat during Lent was that on Easter night that lamb tasted so darn good you can hardly believe how good it is!?

And if our fast is based upon Jesus' sacrifice of his life shouldn't post-Lent be based upon the restoration of Jesus' life in the resurrection? On Easter morning Jesus didn't learn to live habitually without his life but instead received it back. Isn't that the point?

Or maybe it is a little of each.

William Weedon said...

Certainly, after the fast, there is feast. That is one reason why during the days of Easter the Church does NOT fast - not at all - but we experience those also as heavenly days (Augustine, I think) and then we return to the world of struggle. Hence the arrival of the ember days again just outside the Great 50, and the disciplines forged during Lent return and the struggle goes on. The rhythm of the week itself teaches us this: six days of work; one day of rest - a mirror of life in the Church militant.

Past Elder said...

Back in the day, and the day was before Vatican II, we were engouraged not to see Lent as a matter of just "giving things up" but taking things on.

For example, give your mom a daily compliment or a thank you if you aren't doing so already, or an extra one if you are, unbuckle a little more for the support of the missions or the poor, do something or say something nice about your brother or sister that you just know is actually a jerkweed, read the Bible (yeah, they said it back then) a little daily if you aren't already, read some more stuff (with an imprimatur and a nihil obstat, to be sure) if you are.

Then see how good adding that sort of stuff is to your life, and keep it going. That's how I was taught the keep it going thing.

Boot camp doesn't help if you forget what you learned in boot camp. And don't be around me if the situation gets hot!

And forget about AIT!

(That's Advanced Infantry Training. Since General Scuttlebutt went private, I guess I'm gonna hafta pick up the pace a little.)

Bryce P Wandrey said...

I guess I would say that there is great freedom in this. If someone wants to utilize this time of fasting in order to .... that which they give up, then I say "Go for it!"

Past Elder said...

Actually Bryce, fasting as a spiritual thing is quite different than fasting scientifically, which puts the whole metaphor beyond question and into the superstitous damn near.

Medically, fasting is what happens AFTER a meal is digested, not so that a meal can be digested, or more fully enjoyed. The metabolic changes that happen after digestion is complete make it a good time to run tests, which is why you are asked to come in before breakfast for a lot of them. So even as a metaphor for spiritual growth it doesn't hold up, let alone a practice.

That's OK though, that's what half and half pizzas are for. Mine with the works, yours the veggie delight or whatever.

Bryce P Wandrey said...

Past Elder,
I am struggling to see how your response is related to my post. Are you calling into question my utilization of Jesus' temptation, death and resurrection as a metaphor for Lenten fasting? I thought that utilization of this metaphor is exactly what Lenten fasting was based upon (at the least the temptation and death of Christ). No?