Friday after Ash Wednesday
Religion without practice is hypocrisy. In Greek this word praxis means that which is done by someone who is free (not a slave). In more contemporary understanding, it means making theory and good intentions real. Spiritually, it can mean living our faith on the level of experience. In praxis we enter a process not just shoot for a goal. Part of this process includes accepting and working with our imperfections – because, however good our praxis may be, we are not meant to aim at own perfection. Doing so excludes the power of God and does little more than enhance our ego – it inflates our sense of self.
Putting our religion into practice in this way involves purifying our motives. As we walk the talk spiritually, the power of self-centeredness is diminished. We slowly find ourselves doing good simply because we are getting better – going good for its own sake rather than for our satisfaction. Some have said it this way: “Virtue is its own reward.” As we grow in the practice of our religion, we learn to love God for God’s sake, not for what we can squeeze out of a special relationship with God. If this sounds a bit too abstract, apply it to your motivation for meditating and for prayer, over a period of time, and will soon become clearer.
Christian spirituality identifies three forms of praxis which are of importance for those who want to make something of Lent: fasting, almsgiving and prayer. Some people fast or abstain from meat on Fridays in Lent. Fasting generally means having only one substantial meal and not snacking throughout the day. But fasting can apply to more than food. We can cut down on other things that we consume or refrain from habits that too easily become compulsive - like watching TV, texting, surfing the web, flicking through magazines, or shopping for more than we really need.
By raising our minds to God throughout the day each time we get an urge to partake of that from which we fast, we get to the root-cause of the many imbalances in our lives by becoming other-centered. That is why it makes us feel better -- it allows us to experience what goodness really means.
Scripture Lessons appointed for the day
(Click on the lesson for the text)
Neither is new wine put into old wineskins; otherwise, the skins burst, and the wine is spilled, and the skins are destroyed; but new wine is put into fresh wineskins, and so both are preserved. (Matthew 9:24)
Take a moment and contemplate this image.
New wine - new wineskins . . .
'Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions and my sin is always before me' - by Hannah Martin
Physical food never fully satisfies; in a few hours, you’ll need to eat again. But when you are fed from doing the work of the Lord, you will find a new satisfaction like you’ve never experienced.
Giving up can be receiving.