Sunday, February 17, 2008

My Lenten Rule

Father Acker sent out a guideline for writing our own Lenten Rule of Life, rather like the Holy Rule of Saint Benedict, but directed to this Lenten season. I know that we're rather far into Lent at this point, but I thought I'd post his ideas, just in case you might want to "tweak" your Lenten discipline or even start something if you haven't started practicing Lent yet:

Lenten Rule of Life
Lent is a time to regain that love for Jesus Christ which we had when we first believed. On Ash Wednesday, we set out to renew our love of our Lord in rededication to live in Christ. Our journey is to come to our heavenly home. At times the trip seems long or we get distracted or lose the passion of our earlier love of God. During Lent we rekindle that love of God in our daily living. Pre-Lent is the time to plan for keeping a Holy Lent by writing a Lenten Rule of Life.

A rule of life is the structure that we give to our daily living in Christ. Writing out the ways in which we bring Christ to the foreground of our lives, helps us to see how in Him we “live, move, and have our being.” So often we let our daily living in our Savior be a mental note, a “memo to self”—Remember to pray more often; Visit Bob/Sue who’s been ill; Read a bible chapter each day. Our rule of life gives us balance and a measurable standard for living in Christ. Tests given in school are not the achievement of knowledge and understanding, but they are the means by which we measure our progress toward greater knowledge. We need to mark our progress in Christ Jesus.

A rule of life should include prayer, study, works of mercy, and fellowship in Christ. First and foremost is our principle act of worship—Holy Communion. It is our obligation to be with the Body of Christ to “do this in remembrance” of our Lord each Sunday, the day of His Resurrection. Make each Sunday Eucharist part of your Lenten commitment to live more closely with Christ as Lord, Savior, and King. If you are at each Sunday Eucharist, you may find your life with Christ strengthen in coming an extra time during the week to “do this in remembrance.” Weekday communion has a different quality of personal devotion and presence with our Lord.

Prayer is to be part of our daily walk with God, to talk with Him about those things going on in your life and to listen to God speaking to us. Daily prayer should be part of our Rule of Life. Daily Morning and Evening Prayer may not be part of our lives, but we can start in that direction. Find a time when you can consistently take ten minutes every day. For you it may be the time while the coffee is brewing or before getting dressed, while waiting for the Nightly News. Writing it down makes it measurable. If the time isn’t working change it to one that does work.

Reading of God’s Word is essential if we are to hear what God desire for us. In the calendar for Lent, the weekdays have a bible reading listed for each day. This is from the regular cycle of lessons for the Daily Office. You can start with this single lesson. When you have the one lesson a regular part of your life you can add the others.

The daily devotion some find helpful. It is like a short little sermon for the day. It should help us to understand scripture and our daily living.

During Lent we are reminded of our personal need to pray for forgiveness. Penitence or Confession is a necessary part of our prayer life. We need to specifically ask for God’s forgiveness. Jesus’ dying on the Cross was for our sins. We need to ask for them to be forgiven. Christian living is personal. We need to ask our Lord to forgive us. We begin with Ash Wednesday as a public sign of our need to repent, but it needs to be carried into our daily life. It is part of the Daily Office. It is part of weekday Mass. And we have the Sacrament of Confession given to us because we really do need the grace and assurance of God’s forgiveness in our lives.

Acts of Mercy are doing things for others in the Name of Christ. Feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, and assisting those in need. When we do it to the least of these, we do it unto Christ. It may require asking whom you might visit. If you can’t get out very easily, it may be praying for those in need from our Intercession list.

Fasting and abstinence is what most people remember about Lent, the giving up of something. Fasting (not eating) or abstinence (doing without something) has been to remind us of what Christ Jesus has done for us. When we fast on Ash Wednesday until our simple evening meal or on Good Friday when we fast until 3 PM when we remember our Lord’s death upon the Cross, it is to bring to mind what a sacrifice God has made for us. During Lent we abstain from eating meat on Wednesdays in addition to our normal Friday abstinence. There are many who abstain from meat all forty days of Lent. It the past the abstinence from meat was to not eat flesh meat (beef, pork, chicken or lamb). Fish was excepted, as it was “a poor man’s meal.” Perhaps eating lobster or crab legs may not be much of an abstinence in devotion to our Lord.

Start by writing it down. Make it specific. You can change it. But be specific. Be realistic. This is a life change we’re looking for, not a miracle. The miracle has already been given us in our Lord.

So here's my Lenten Rule, based on the above ideas:
Prayer and Scripture: MORNING: I will pray the Morning Office from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer (BCP),(focusing on adoration and intercession), including the Lectionary Readings and the Psalter Readings for each morning. (The Psalter is at the back of the BCP and divides the 150 Psalms into readings for the seventh morning, the twenty-third evening, etc., for thirty days' worth of morning and evening readings of the Psalms.) I will also pray each morning's prayer from The Diary of Private Prayer along with the day's reading from My Utmost for His Highest and One Year Book of Hymns which I work into the Morning Office.
NOON: Bible Book Club readings (reading through the Bible in three years (see Blogs of Interest in sidebar) and prayer; I'd like to learn the Scriptural Anglican Rosary -- all Scriptures.
EVENING: Evening Office in 1928 BCP (focusing on confession and thanksgiving), including Psalter readings, which means that I will read the entire Book of Psalms 1.5 times during Lent. I will also pray the evening prayers in The Diary of Private Prayer and read the day's selection in The Contemplative Reader.

Worship and Study: Will attend weekly Eucharist services at Alpine Anglican Church of the Blessed Trinity(Friday mornings) and weekly worship services at Lake Murray Community Church (Sundays). I will also attend Lake Murray Bible studies: One Anothers (Sundays) studying St. Matthew's Gospel and Lady Bereans (Tuesdays) studying St. Peter's Epistles. I also am planning to attend the Anglican Lenten study of C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters (Wednesdays). In addition, I will attend Ash Wednesday Liturgy at Alpine Anglican as well as the Stations of the Cross at least once, and sacramental confession once during Lent.

Self-Denial and Service: I will do oatmeal fasts (as I cannot fast completely for health reasons) on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Throughout Lent (not including Sundays which are not part of Lent) I will fast from all refined sugar and gluten foods, and I also will exercise three times a week in order to build my health for service to God. I also will visit Fern, my chiropractor's wife, and perhaps take care of her on days when Dr. Burns must go into work.

Therefore, with the help of Christ my Saviour, I hope to keep this Lenten Rule for His glory and pleasure, and for my growth in discipline as well as knowledge and love of my Lord. Signed this fifth day of February .... Susanne.

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