Thursday, February 26, 2009

My Lenten Rule

I always look forward to Lent with great anticipation. I look forward to the spiritual spring cleaning. And the practice of the spiritual disciplines ... even fasting. And the focus on God via extra prayer, extra Scripture readings, and the reading of devotional books I wouldn't usually have time for. Worship -- and the chance to unburden myself completely through the sacrament of confession.

So for this Lent I am fasting from certain foods (would rather keep the list private) and I am practicing these disciplines of prayer and devotional life: Morning and Evening Prayer from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, Morning and Evening Prayer John Baillie's classic Diary of Private Prayer, and Morning, Midday, Vespers (evening), and Compline (bedtime) Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle. I also hope to add several times per week the Anglican "Rosary," consisting of Scripture that is prayed meditatively.

Each Lent I also read a devotional book, preferably a Christian classic. I've read Richard Foster's Devotional Classics a few times in past years as it contains excerpts of many Christian writers through the centuries, and I've also perused books by Eastern Orthodox writer Frederica Mathewes-Green. Last spring I studied C.S. Lewis' classic The Screwtape Letters with the Anglicans at their Wednesday Lenten Study. So this Lent I was unsure what to read up until the very last evening, late on Shrove Tuesday night to be exact. I happened to be reading through the Alpine Anglican blog and saw that for their Wednesday Lenten study they will be studying The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a`Kempis. Hooray -- medieval literature! I've had a copy of Imitation sitting on my desk for months, having wanted to read it for a long time since perusing a few excerpts over the years but never the book as a whole. Any book that was published in the early 1400's is okay by me. {grin}

I plan to attend Alpine Anglican's Healing Mass each Friday and Lake Murray each Sunday, so I'll be in church twice weekly, and with Eucharist each week with the Anglicans and weekly Communion at Lake Murray, I'll be receiving the Lord's Supper twice each week. If I can get away, I hope to attend the Wednesday Lenten Study, but if I can't, I'm happy to be reading The Imitation of Christ on my own. I'm also hoping to have at least one day set aside for silent prayer as Father Acker is trying to set up a day at the Prince of Peace Benedictine Abbey in Oceanside. I may have at least one other day of silent prayer and meditation on my own as well.

Traditionally, the 40 days of Lent does not include Sundays; they are considered days "off" from fasting. But I would also like to include a different kind of fast on Sundays: I plan to "fast" from electronics on Sundays for a couple of reasons. I would like to more strongly establish Sunday as a Sabbath day for our family -- set apart, different from the other six days of the week. I would like also to be able to focus more on board games with my family and take time to read other books, do some writing, etc., on Sundays. So that's my plan for now: no computer or TV on Sundays unless we decide to watch a movie together as a family.

So these are my Lenten plans, my Lenten Rule for 2009. I am asking for God's help in establishing better habits in my physical life (by fasting from foods that I tend to overconsume) and spiritual habits (by spending more time in the Word, in prayer, and in reading the second most popular book of all time, The Imitation of Christ) as well as making Sunday more of a Sabbath Day than it has been in the past. Thus begins the spiritual spring cleaning that I look forward to each February for the simple reason that although I may not totally enjoy the process, the results bring me much closer to my Lord and Saviour.

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