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What do you think of when you hear the word “Lent”? What images come to mind? What sounds do you hear? What spiritual practices have you tried in the past?

Lent is one of those seasons of preparation. For 40 days we journey with Jesus on the road to Jerusalem. In liturgy we simplify. The Paschal Candle (the tall candle that sits by the Font at the front of the church) is removed and will reappear at the Easter Vigil as we light it from the Easter fire. The flowers that usually adorn the Altar will disappear. This year we may try simplifying even more and switch out all the “shiny holy hardware” for more simple candle holders, alms basins (that we use for collection) and Communion vessels. The colors that we hang on the Altar, Lecturn and Pulpit will change to purple (a penitential color) and then to red for Holy Week. Our music and our Eucharistic prayer will change. All to reflect the tone of the season.

Many people continue the practice of Lent into their everyday lives taking on a new spiritual discipline or perhaps adding to a current one. I know of someone who chose to read an extra hour a day (not a “fun” book, but something that would help him to deepen his relationship with God). Others choose to simplify their lives by giving something up – perhaps an item of food or drink, maybe a negative practice that they wish to change. Some increase their knowledge of the saints by playing a game called Lent Madness where a bracket of saints battle it out to be crowned with the Golden Halo. Check out their website at www.lentmadness.org.

Why do people choose to give up or take something new on for this season? Why do you?

For the past few months the articles that I write for the Beacon have been copied onto our St. Jude’s website on the blog part of the site. Debbie Fry has set the blog up so that it offers a place for conversation and interaction by inviting comments. To avoid those who troll the internet looking for such interactive areas in order to put their own links to advertisements and to avoid inappropriate comments, we are requiring all comments to be approved before they go live. I receive – or I will when those comments begin – an e-mail alerting me to the comment so I can go ahead and approve and post it.

Let’s use this article as a launch to a conversation on the blog about Lenten practices. What are you choosing to do? How’s it going? A place to support one another in our Lenten journeys and perhaps a place to reflect more deeply about our practices. I’ve entitled this blog “Our Journey Together.”  I’ll start the conversation by posting my Lenten discipline. I look forward to our online conversation about Lent. It’s my plan to begin using this blog as a way to begin a new online community as St. Jude’s begins exploring how to engage more directly with the community around the building – as we move on out into the neighborhood. It will be exciting to see where God takes us on Our Journey Together!