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Lent or Dieting ????

by: Rev. Dn. Belson Kuriakose, New York

WHAT IS LENT?

The first thing that comes to our minds when we hear the word Lent is, "What am I going to give up this year?" For some it's merely "chicken curry and beef curry." For others it is movies, chocolate and/or other source of pleasure. However, fellow brothers and sisters, giving up something is only a small aspect of lent. Lent is also not JUST mere tradition/practices that we follow.

In a nutshell, Lent is a battle to defeat Satan and his mischievous temptations.

WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?

Since the day Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree, humankind has been seeing sin. Sin is what separates man from God and the devil uses this as a tool to destroy us. However, 2000 years ago, God blessed humanity with a weapon to fight this devil and a bridge to connect the gap between God and humans. This almighty and powerful weapon is JESUS CHRIST!

"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." Peter 5:8

By observing the Great Lent, we are taking part in the sufferings and temptations our Lord faced. By observing lent, we are cleansing our bodies and making room for the Holy Spirit to dwell within us. By observing the Great Lent, we are distancing ourselves from the Devil and getting closer to the ever forgiving and loving God.

HOW DO I OVERCOME THE DEVIL?

Like our Lord teaches us, "This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting." Mark 9:29.

First, we have to submit ourselves to Christ. We have to open up our hearts and minds for the almighty one. To do this we need to prepare physically, mentally and spiritually.

Mentally

What surgeon performs a surgery without washing his hands? What carpenter builds a house without buying some nails? Similarly, what Christian enters the Great Lent not realizing the fact that he/she is a sinner? One of the main components of Lent is Self-reflection. Whenever we say the Lord's Prayer, we recite, "Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us" Mathew 6:12.

In addition, the scripture teaches us, "But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses." Mathew 6:15. What good are we if we do not realize our sins and forgive others before we submit ourselves to Christ? So first learn to forgive and forget!!! Also as a mental preparation, we have to abstain from all sorts of unwanted and evil thoughts.

Physically

We have to abstain from eating certain gratifying provisions. When we refrain from eating items like meat and chicken, our body enters a state of deficiency. This is when we nourish our souls and bodies with the spiritual bread. "And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst." John 6.35. How do we obtain this delicious spiritual bread? Through prayer!!!!!

Spiritually

After coming to realize that you are a sinner and that you need to seek God's forgiveness, compassion, and mercy, you have to receive the Holy sacraments of Confession and Communion. Christ gave his holy apostles the authority to act as a mediator for forgiving sins. Through apostolic succession, from generation to generation, this authority has been passed down to our church fathers and now our very own priests have the authority to act as such mediators. The church teaches us that holy confession should be taken once every 40 days, and it is definitely suggested that you receive this sacrament during the Holy Great Lent.

As one of our church fathers, Mor Osthathios, teaches us in one of his writings, "True confession is also a pastoral counseling. Absolution by the priest gives the assurance…..There is no other sacrament which gives so much of relief of the heart and the joy of forgiveness."

After taking part in this sacrament, we have to close the final gap with the sacrament of Holy Communion. During the Holy Qurbana (mass), with the divine intervention of the Holy Spirit, the earthly bread and wine become the heavenly body and blood of Christ. As he teaches us, "This is my body….This is my blood" Mathew 26: 26-29. For if we receive it, "Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me." John 14: 6.

To recap, during this Great Lent, do not JUST give up meat, chicken, chocolate and/or your other enjoyments. In today's society, our youth is confusing FASTING with DIETING. Without prayer, self-reflection, and sacraments, this lent becomes a fancy way of saying, "I'm dieting."

So when you are fasting this year, try to think about the true meaning of lent and how you could tackle it!! Here is a little pneumonic: F-A-S-T….

F- Forgive and forget others' sins.
A- Avoid eating certain designated foods.
S-Sacraments of Confession and Communion
T- This is the end of Satan in my life!!

May this Great Lent give us the chance to distance ourselves from the sins of the past, help us to be obedient, and to grow and become closer to the Almighty one. May the blessings of the Holy Spirit be upon us all.

See Also:

More Lent Resources

Great Lent: O Holy and Salvific Great Lent, come in Peace
What is the basic message of lent or the goal that we have to achieve by observing this fast? Through Lenten prayers, the Church Fathers teach us that the goal of Lent is a complete transformation from all the powers of evil to the perfect Love of God.

Fasting is good for heart and long life
As a principle for spiritual preparation, if one fasts before receiving Holy Eucharist in empty stomach it is good for health of mind, body and spirit. Observe the Holy Lent with proper fasting, prayer and humility for the blessing of you, your family and the church.

Do You Fast?
According to St. John Chrysostom, fasting is not just forsaking food. It is what you do that counts.

Why Should We Observe the Lent and Fasting?
We should keenly look forward to the Lent- because the purpose of Prayer & Fasting is to defeat the Satan.

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