Let's talk today about the Christian life over here in the Holy Land – and more specifically the observance of Lent.
Because the overwhelming majority of Christians here are Orthodox and Latin (Catholic), there is a heightened awareness of the season of Lent.
The Lenten period comes before Easter and is viewed as an opportunity to come into the fullness of the Resurrection and it's significance.
Historically, Lent was set up by the early Church Fathers as a period of prayer, contemplation, self-examination and self-denial to exercise Christian principles and ideals.
Of course we can look at Lent in two ways – the spiritual fast and the physical fast.
Spiritually, one seeks to make genuine changes for the better in their life. This is done by reviewing their personal life with all its problems. One will avoid and deny themselves the things that can lead them to wrong, (and that's hard to do) and do so ideally with patience and faith. Often spiritual matters take the place of physical things.
The idea is to emulate Christ – not self.
In relation to physical fasting: one stays of the rich and luxurious foods. They be meat, dairy, and some fish products. The idea here is to strengthen willpower and cleanse the body.
Hence, in the market – where I was yesterday, you can find all kinds of grains and foods made for the time.
This is just another reminder, here in the Holy Land, that we follow a rhythm, a calendar, in our physical and spiritual lives.