Forgiveness: following Jesus into radical loving by Paula Huston

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explore Lent

Practices, tools and reflections for the Lenten season


Practices for Lent

Incorporating ancient disciplines into our lives today

Reflections by Paula Huston

As contemporary urban people, we’re not used to being alone. We’ve often learned to depend on the opinions of others for our sense of self, and on our social roles for our sense of meaning. Solitude can thus feel threatening. Yet Christianity teaches that deliberate times of withdrawal are necessary for true self-knowledge and for communion with God.  

Silence accompanies aloneness, and is one of its great benefits. Yet one can practice silence even in the midst of other people. St. Benedict believed that unless we learn to control our tongues, community is doomed. Here are some common temptations that surround unbridled talking and ways that we can begin to temper our speech.

The season of Lent is associated with abstinence from certain kinds of food. When we deliberately skip a meal, we quickly become aware of how invested we are in eating, how many times a day we think about food, and how much of our energy goes toward meeting the demands of the stomach. Fasting can thus help free us from a certain kind of bondage.

Chastity, which is an aspect of celibacy that can be practiced by anyone including married people, promotes an attitude of thanksgiving and reverence toward all that God has created, including our flesh. To practice chastity means to look upon other people’s bodies—and our own—with the respect that is due them. 

Right Livelihood
As we approach Easter and the end of Lent, we start thinking once again about ordinary time, which for most of us means our daily round of work. Here, we look at a practice the Buddhists call “right livelihood,” or developing the proper attitude toward what we do for a living.

Spiritual Confidence
Spiritual confidence is trust in God. When we let go of self-reliance and put our faith in divine lovingkindness, we are freed up from anxiety and fear about the future.  Now is a particularly good time to think about spiritual confidence, especially when we read about how quickly the traumatized disciples scattered after the crucifixion.