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Today is Ash Wednesday

Feb 25, 2009, 6:41 AM | Article By: By Augustine Kanjia

Fasting and Abstinence

Lent begins from Ash Wednesday lasting for forty days and forty nights. It is a crucial moment in the life of a true Christian because it entails fasting, abstinence and reorganising ones true self for the purpose of the kingdom of God.

Lent starts from the signing of the ashes on the forehead of Christians especially Catholics. The Priest says, "Remember man that thou art from dust and unto dust thou shall return." It is also a reminder for man to note that despite all we do, despite riches, we were made from dust and despite all odds we shall die and return to where we were fashioned.

It starts with fasting, which involves cutting down on good things in life. It does not follow the strict fasting from morning to evening. The fasting here entails sharing the little one has with another. The less fortunate ones are considered here as during fasting, cutting down on food, and other things. Sharing is prominent as the clothes one has could be shared without the left hand knowing. One may decide to give up some bad attitude or practice, for example; smoking, drinking, fornication, adultery, stealing, you name them.

It is really a time to get rid of the ills in ones life. These are the things Christians should embrace to enable them to come close to the reality of the life after.

Jesus was tempted for forty days and forty nights. He came in close proximity to Satan who showed him good worldly things but he stood firm and rejected its empty promises. The encounter gave Jesus the zeal to enter Jerusalem and start God's work in earnest. It was not without temptation as usual but he was ready to face it all. The end of it all was death on a cross.

We tend to think of Lent as a time of fasting and gloom. Infact, however, it is meant to be a time when we get our lives into shape so that the great change that God brought about in us when we were baptized may have more effect in our lives. We stop and think. We look back to the great events through which God made us what we are; reflect on their bearing on our day to day lives. If we do not reflect on the direction we are taking but merely go with the stream, we are not living like rational people.

Fasting did play a prominent part in the Lenten season of past centuries. People expressed various things by this practice.

It could be like sacrifice, express a turning closer to God. When lent began in the 4th Century, the strictness of the fasting was partly due to the contempt many people had for the body as marely the prison of the soul: a view adopted from the then very philosophy of Plato. Wishing you a blessed Lenten Season.