February 17th is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the season of Lent. Around this time last year I wrote a reflection on fasting as it is portrayed in Isaiah, wondering at the nature of a true fast. I think it’s sort of funny that I end up writing about this stuff, because fasting (like most spiritual disciplines) has never, until very recently, been a big part of my life, and I am not very good at it. I’ve not grown up in churches that observed the church year, nor do I attend one now, so my reflections on the ancient practices such as Lent are usually entirely my own, for better or for worse, written as a newcomer. I say this as a sort of caveat, since, in the coming weeks, I will be posting four or five personal and observed reasons why Lent’s extended period of fasting and willing deprivation is good for you, Oh Evangelical Protestant (and of course by you, I mean me and hopefully you).

As I’ve been shaping the drafts over the last week, I’ve realized that this is, at its core, an attempt to understand the spiritual importance of hard times. I know it’s rough out there for a lot of us. I’ve spent the last three months sicker than I can ever remember being before, and compared to what some of my friends and family have gone through this year, I got off easy. Wouldn’t it be of great comfort to know that God can use such things to enliven and deepen your soul? I think Lent might show us how if we let it.

More to come…

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Posted by Cate MacDonald


  1. At the risk of shameless self promotion may I suggest a couple podcasts on fasting and Lent?
    On fasting:

    On Lent:

    Looking forward to you reflections, Matt.
    Blessed Lent to all.


  2. Thank you! I’d be happy to listen to them. And though I look forward to Matt’s reflections too, these will be Cate’s.


  3. Heh….

    One of the goals for 2010 is to redesign the site to make it more obvious who is writing what… : ) Sorry about that, Cate. It happened to Andrew earlier this week, too.




  4. Oops, Cate… I’m somewhat new to the blog so I’ll have to pay more attention to the headers from now on. Makes me wonder who else I’ve confused with Matt. Thanks, I look forward to your Lenten reflections.


  5. My denomination practices fasting; and, I think it is Scriptural to do so. However, there are a couple of opservations that I have made down through the years. One is, a diabetic should never fast, nor made to feel less of a saint, if they don’t. Secondly, fasting is not some kind of a bargaining tool to get what you want (no matter how lofty it may be) out of God. For the most part, I think I can safely say that those that benefit mostly from fasting are those that never let on that they are fasting.


  6. I would just like to observe that this is one of the best uses of sociological statistics in a mainstream journalism article that I have ever seen in that they are not shoehorned into wild theories buttressed by absurd anecdotes.


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