Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Last year Pat & I gave up meat for the season, and we are going to do it again this year. Being raised in the Protestant Church I was aware of folks who were hostile to all things Catholic. "It's not what goes into your mouth but what comes out of it that saves you," they would say in discussing the tradition of giving up red meat on Fridays. I wonder how they feel about the Muslim tradition of praying five times a day.
Seeing these practices as requirements to enter a post-death paradise misses the point. These practices call us to be mindful. They cause the Spirit to intrude into our ordinary lives. They remind us that faith should be tranforming. Indeed, my pastor, Reverend Linda Miller, pointed this out to Chalice in noting that we always read of the tranfiguration before the season of Lent. Sort of a goal, I suppose.
As the Buddhists say, "Be Mindful."