Lent isn’t just for Catholics anymore

A Florida newspaper looks at how some Protestants are observing the season:

At almost 7 feet tall, the Rev. Clifford Johnson admits he likes to eat — a lot.

Except now. Now, Johnson and many members of his Northside Jacksonville church are in the thick of their 40-day Lenten sacrifice of things like TV, soda, Facebook and chocolate.

“It’s hard for me because I am a big guy, and I like to eat,” said Johnson, a former college and NBA basketball player.

All of that is normal for clergy and lay people participating in Lent, the 40-day sacrificial season designed to prepare Christians for Easter. But there is one fact that makes Johnson and his congregation different from most others
observing Lent: They’re Baptists — and theologically conservative ones at that.

Rather than rejecting Lent as something “too Catholic” or because it isn’t mentioned in the New Testament, Johnson said Zion Hope Missionary Baptist Church recognizes the spiritual value of the season.

We don’t want Easter to be a one-day event,” Johnson said. “We want people to enjoy the journey so Easter will be more meaningful and powerful in their lives.”

Historically, Lent is associated mostly with the Catholic Church. The practice dates back centuries and, in part, was viewed as a time to prepare converts for their entry into the church.

The practice was abandoned by many Protestant denominations after the Reformation and remains for many of them an unbiblical practice.

But not by all. Orthodox Christians never rejected Lent, and most Mainline Protestant groups, like the Episcopal and Methodist churches, and some Presbyterians, have kept it.

Read more.

Comments

  1. vox borealis says:

    The practice was abandoned by many Protestant denominations after the Reformation …

    And by most Catholics after the Second Vatican Council. Who knows, maybe the Baptists will lead Catholics back to traditional Catholic devotions.

    God has wicked sense of irony.

  2. “And by most Catholics after the Second Vatican Council…..”
    That’s a bit of an exaggeration, don’t you think?

  3. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    I’d estimate that at least 80% of the people who receive at my parish do so in the hand.

  4. I know most of my Catholic family and friends observe Lent and to the customs like refraining from meat on Fridays.

    I find it interesting that Protestants don’t observe Lent because it’s ‘not in the Bible’. Never heard that one before. Does that mean those Nuns tricked me in parochial school and I could have been enjoying bacon this whole time? :)

  5. My guess is that those who don’t observe Lent because it’s “not in the bible” subscribe to the “sola scriptura” outlook. Catholics believe in the bible AND sacred tradition. Clearly, the apostles practiced the faith before the bible was written. No tricky nuns! :)

  6. vox borealis says:

    The vast majority of Catholics I know barely practice the faith at all. Of these, they may “go to church” (they never “go to Mass”), but almost universally they ignore or are ignorant of Catholic devotionals and/or the few Catholic seasonal practices remaining on the books.

    Now, I am not one of these who “blames” the Second Vatican Council. Rather, I merely point out—and one would be hard pressed to argue against the position—that the last generation or so has witnessed an utter collapse of Catholic practice and traditional lay piety.

    Meanwhile, this is not the first story that I have read or heard of a Protestant community growing more open to what they would have rejected in the past as “Popish.” Heck, my father-in-law’s Methodist church is in the process of re-introducing weekly communion: the older members of the community reject it as “too Catholic,” but for the most part the congregation is attracted to the ritual (even if it is, from a Catholic perspective, highly flawed).

  7. vox borealis says:

    An attempt at sarcasm, I assume? Or just well over my head?

  8. Rather, I merely point out—and one would be hard pressed to argue against the position—that the last generation or so has witnessed an utter collapse of Catholic practice and traditional lay piety.

    That is a rather vague proposition. To evaluate its usefulness one wouldn’t just ascertain whether it is facially true. One would also ask if the proposition was a unique claim in history. In this case it isn’t. There have been many periods of ebb and flow.

  9. naturgesetz says:

    Huh?

  10. This comment seems intended for another thread.

  11. Vox borealis says:

    Wy must it be unique? Yes, there have been ebbs and flows. Right now is certainly a low point. So what if that has happened before?

  12. Hmm, Catholic envy. They should just cross the Tiber. ;)

  13. It must be unique to be useful. One area where this happens is with divining whether one is going to have a boy or a girl. You’ll hear claims like our family always has boys first (except when it doesn’t.) You’ll hear dyed in the wool partisans on the issue, but our best information suggests that sex tends to be random and pretty evenly distributed.

    As it relates to the Church, the most common error is to assume that any drop off (or gain) has something to do with what the Church has most recently done. There is a very strong case to be made that ebbs and flows in the Church are mostly the product of the secular environment.

  14. My parish has a wonderful tradition called “Covenant Churches”. We gather weekly in Advent and Lent to share a simple soup supper and prayer that one day, we will be one. Our fellow Covenant churches also follow the practices of Lent…Ash Wednesday, fasting and abstinence on Fridays, Good Friday and Ash Wednesday, and the disciplines of Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving all through Lent. Klamath Lutheran, Sacred Heart Catholic and St. Paul’s Episcopal all give up something or do something extra for Lent, and many of our friends also attend the ‘fish fry’ at the Knights of Columbus Hall on Fridays. We also offer a Covenant Churches Stations of the Cross that we pray all together at Sacred Heart on Good Friday at noon. Last Wednesday we shared a meal at St. Paul’s Episcopal and then, prayed the Compline from the Liturgy of Hours.

  15. “The vast majority of Catholics I know barely practice the faith at all….”
    That’s certainly not my experience. Sure there’s a wide range of observance but 1) that’s how it’s always been and 2) the Church has never really asked all that much of it’s members. When you think about it, there the 10 commandments and the 5 or so precepts of the Church and more or less that’s it. The rest is gravy. As much as l’d like my fellow Catholics to go whole hog and the pious and devotional stuff, and believe me I really do, most of that is not *required*. That said, most Catholics I know do something a bit beyond “barely practice” even if not as should be or as much as you or I would like.

    “….The last generation or so has witnessed an utter collapse of Catholic practice and traditional lay piety.”
    Decline yes but not utter collapse. There couldn’t been a revival of and a renewed interest in devotional practices the past few years if there had been because it couldn’t happen in a vacuum. There were always little old ladies praying the rosary, plenty of parishes still had votive candles burning before saints, etc. Sometimes it was hidden in plain sight.

    I think it also depends on where you live. I think older city parishes and strongly ethnic parishes and neighborhoods see more of the traditional piety than many of those suburban mega-parishes. Likewise for certain parts of the country.

    “Meanwhile, this is not the first story that I have read or heard of a Protestant community growing more open to what they would have rejected in the past as “Popish.”…”
    Nor is it the first I’ve read either, although I think it’s misleading about the mainline Protestants. They abandoned it too, although they began to rediscover it sooner than the churches described in the article.

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