Living Lent

Christmas is behind us and now we look forward to the start of Lent on Ash Wednesday at the end of February. Christmas is usually celebrated with lots of food and gifts. If Christmas is a consumer feast then Lent would be equivalent to a spiritual diet and paying off outstanding bills. 

Ancient Traditions

During Lent we give to others, spend time in prayer and reflection and we fast. Observing Lent can be traced back to the fourth century when Christianity was legalized as a religion (313 AD). At that time, the length of fasting was often disputed. Today we think of Lenten fasting as simply giving up sweets and alcohol. In writing to St. Augustine of Canterbury Pope Gregory (590-604 AD) issued the following rule: “We abstain from flesh, meat and from all things that come from flesh, as milk, cheese and eggs.” This vegan practice was common before the Vatican II Council and it still is in the Eastern Orthodox Churches. 

Modern Practises

In the Western World Catholics are called to fast for the 40 days of Lent. We do not fast on feast days, which would be from Saturday evening until Sunday evening. These are the days we go to church and celebrate the Eucharist. While researching Lent practices I came across an interesting website called “Living Lent”. “Living Lent” challenges us to make a personal commitment in response to climate change. This might be a modern answer to almsgiving – giving to the poor. 


God’s creation is suffering and in need of help. What better answer can we give our creator than by helping to restore earth’s beauty?