St. Cloud Times

Our View: Lent is chance to focus on priorities

February 20, 2012

Written by
Times Editorial Board

One of the holiest of times in Christian churches begins soon and brings with it an encouragement to live one’s life unselfishly.

Most Christian churches, including some Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian and Roman Catholic, observe Lent, a season of preparation for Easter. While each denomination has its own way of observing Lent, even those who have no ties to any religion can act on the Lenten messages of sacrifice and almsgiving.

For most observers, Lent begins Wednesday — Ash Wednesday — when people focus on fasting, seeking forgiveness of past transgressions and serving others. The three pillars of Lent are along the same vein as the Golden Rule — do unto others as you would have done to you.

In this Christian season of making sacrifices and doing good, consider how you might act on these fronts.

Some people make sacrifices by giving up something they enjoy such as coffee, or a convenience such as eating fast food and then donating the money they would have spent to a local charity. A sacrifice also could include giving up screen time — spent watching TV, on the computer, with a cellphone or hand-held game — and spending more time interacting with loved ones, or those who might be lonely.

Many people have accumulated more than they need, with closets and rooms overflowing and cluttering their lives. Creighton University’s online ministry suggests Lent can be a time for people to release themselves of the things they own and simplifying their lives.

On one level this is a simple act of getting rid of things that are no longer needed. On another level, the online ministry says, it can be a journey into personal freedom, asking how many sweaters, shirts, shoes, sporting goods does one need? This means giving up the good stuff and finding happiness in having less.

For those who never worry about their next meal, perhaps they could fast and go without a meal one day each week.

Donate that nonperishable food to their local food shelf. It would be a combination of fasting and serving others.

In this busy, abundant world, Lent offers an opportunity to reset our priorities and reflect on what’s really important in our lives.