The topics that you love to hate. I spend a considerable amount of my personal time engaged in thought about these two topics. These are two topics that are very important and personal to me. I talk about them with few people. My parents, a few family members and a couple close friends are all that are really aware of my religious and spiritual life.
Since moving to North County San Diego about 8 months ago, I had the desire to return to the church. More than a spiritual calling, I felt drawn to the community of “good people” generally associated with the church. I have written about all of this at great lengths before, but if you are reading this for the first time, here’s a bit of backstory…
A local radio personality I enjoy listening to spoke of his journey’s to find a “home church” by visiting many different local churches. It seemed like a good idea, so I decided to do the same. After visiting many different churches during the first 5-6 months, there were two that I frequented. Being raised Roman Catholic, I was naturally drawn back to the Catholic Church. I was also drawn to the Lutheran Church.
After many discussions with family and friends, much time and energy spent reflecting and even a meeting with church staff, I find myself in a place not much different from where I began. It seems as though I have come full circle without intending or trying. Rather than going back to the churches that I have enjoyed visiting, I choose to spend the time today writing about these experiences.
Many a good religious person would scoff at my desire to do this. It is Lent, of course. Lent is a solemn observance in the liturgical year of many Christian denominations, lasting for a period of approximately six weeks leading up to Easter Sunday. In the general Latin-rite and most Western denominations Lent is taken to run from Ash Wednesday to Maundy Thursday (Holy Thursday) morning or to Easter Eve. In the Catholic Church, Lent lasts until Holy Thursday, while other denominations run until Easter Eve.
The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer—through prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving, and self-denial. Its institutional purpose is heightened in the annual commemoration of Holy Week, marking the death and resurrection of Jesus, which recalls the events of the the Bible when Jesus is crucified on Good Friday, which then culminates in the celebration on Easter Sunday of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
During Lent, many of the faithful commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penitence. The Stations of the Cross, a devotional commemoration of Christ’s carrying the Cross and of his execution, are often observed. Many Roman Catholic and some Protestantchurches remove flowers from their altars, while crucifixes, religious statues, and other elaborate religious symbols are often veiled in violet fabrics in solemn observance of the event. In certain pious Catholic countries, some adherents mark the season with the traditional abstention from the consumption of meat.  In some countries, grand religious processions and cultural customs are observed, and the faithful attempt to visit seven churches during Holy Week in honor of Jesus Christ heading to Mount Calvary.
Lent is traditionally described as lasting for forty days, in commemoration of the forty days which, according to the Gospels of Matthew, Mark andLuke, Jesus spent fasting in the desert before the beginning of his public ministry, where he endured temptation by the Devil. However, different Christian denominations calculate the forty days of Lent differently. In most Western traditions the Sundays are not counted as part of Lent; thus the period from Ash Wednesday until Easter consists of 40 days when the Sundays are excluded. However in the Roman Catholic Church Lent is now taken to end on Holy Thursday rather than Easter Eve, and hence lasts 38 days excluding Sundays, or 44 days in total.
I wish I could say that I wrote all of that, but that is straight from Wikipedia. Lots of material there, but much of it and none of it is relevant to my rant (which will be up in 7 minutes, for at least this pomodoro. What ever do I mean? Please continue…
Much of this content above is relevant, because as I previously wrote, “many a good religious person would scoff at my desire to [write about religion and spirituality, rather than attend church during the Lenten season.] If you are one of the judgmental people that believe you’re a better <insert religion here> than me, more power to you. I’m as certain as you are that you’ll have a better place in heaven than me. Can you sense the cynicism and sarcasm? I sure hope so.
Like many people, I began with giving something up for Lent. After sticking with my lenten fast for a week or two, I indulged after a shocking discussion that altered my perception of the church and was a major contributing factor in this most recent spiritual journey of mine. This discussion so rocked my world that I decided a lenten fast wasn’t even really worth it if I am so challenged with my faith in this way. Exactly how was I challenged?