Friday, February 26, 2010


Lent, which began last week, is the season when Christians try to put aside their worldly desires in favor of improving their relationship with God and their fellow human beings. During Lent many Christians commemorate Christ’s 40 days in the wilderness by giving up activities that they find enjoyable.

For each believer the challenge is different. If they are serious, they will abstain from doing something that they particularly like. It could be eating chocolate, drinking a morning latte, playing videogames, shopping for clothes, or watching TV. By fasting or refraining from other pleasures Christians practice self-control in a world where instant gratification is more and more the norm.

During Lent the cross is draped in somber colors, and “alleluia” isn’t heard until Easter morn. The service begins with the Great Litany, five pages of text in the Book of Common Prayer, in which the Intercessor asks for God's help across the entire range of the human condition. In a limited-attention-span, attention-deficit-disorderly world it is initially uncomfortable to sit, listen, and concentrate on one thing for longer than a few moments, especially when it's not for work or school, but the effort for me is worth it. The mind, once freed from reacting to stimulus, first quiets then soars.

Below is the Great Litany of the Episcopal Church. I resisted the first minute's impulse to click away, and it began to draw me in. Don't bother if you're harried or otherwise pressed for time, however. You'll be disappointed.

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