Throughout the church world during the season of Lent people strive to become better Christians. Therefore we should not look upon it as a forbidding or a sad season of fasting and prayer but as a spiritual experience that means much to all of us if we enter into its observance in the right spirit.
Primarily the purpose of Lent is to prepare us mentally, physically, and spiritually for a new awakening; to resurrect us out of old states of consciousness into a new realization of life; and to permit us to reconsecrate and rededicate ourselves to the will and the work of Jesus Christ. Through our spiritual awakening we shall find renewed life and health, a joyous freedom from burdens, and best of all, peace of mind.
Our preparation consists first of all of a careful, impersonal, and honest appraisal of our thinking habits in order to see how they can be improved. In early days penitent Christians began Lent by acknowledging their sins and by entering upon a period of public penance. Today we know that we can find release from error and the effects of erroneous thinking in the past by asking and accepting the forgiveness of Jesus Christ and by bringing our mind and heart into unity with the Christ mind so that its divine ideas may control our thinking and guide it into constructive channels.
Fasting has always been an important part of Lent. In many of the churches members are asked to abstain from certain foods, to refrain from attending shows and entertainments, and in various other ways to practice self-denial.
Renunciation of the undesirable and realization of the good and true is an important factor in spiritual overcoming. Every one of us has habits that need correcting, habits of thinking and feeling, habits of eating, speaking, and acting that should be given up, replaced by better ones.
When we set about giving up a bad habit for a good one we are not losing anything. We are gaining. We are not renouncing the good things of life. As a matter, of fact, we never let go of anything unworthy of us without immediately making room in our mind and heart and life for something much better.
If a person is prone to gossip, to say ugly, critical things about a friend, deceitful in attitude or dishonest in dealings, renunciation of such a practice is surely a very good thing.
In metaphysics we are daily practicing renunciation through our use of denials and affirmations. We deny that which we do not desire in our life and affirm or claim that which we do desire.
Let Lent be for you a time of self-discipline. If you have been eating too much, practice restraining your appetite, through prayer first of course. If you have indulged in a bad temper, now is the time to restrain your impulse to “fly off the handle.” If you have been prone to nag, to criticize to find fault, covenant with yourself now to give up the habit and to improve your disposition.
The churches speak of the mortification of sight, the mortification of hearing, and the mortification of the tongue, that is, the disciplining of these faculties. Here is a prayer that will help us to watch these things:
Through the Spirit of truth within me I know, see, hear, and speak only Truth.
During Lent let us reconsecrate our eyes, our ears, and our tongues to Truth. If we have observed wrongly, if we have been seeing with the “double” eye, let us see Truth. If we have been listening to idle tales, gossip, and criticism of others, let us commence to hear only the truth, only that which is constructive and uplifting. If we have been speaking disparagingly of our neighbors and fellow workers, if we have talked about sickness, poverty, and inharmony and thought of these as realities, let us commence to speak Truth.
Through the Spirit of truth within us we have wisdom and understanding. We are not in doubt about things. We do not say, “I do not know, I do not understand.” We do know. We do understand. We behold perfection in everyone, and see all persons as radiant, all-glorious, beautiful, free sons of God unfettered, unbound, triumphant, rising victorious out of every trial.
Through the Spirit of truth within us we hear glad tidings of good. We hear of people healed, people prospered. We hear the message God has given to us, because our ears no longer want to hear ugly things about anyone. We hear celestial music and we feel in tune with it, because our ears are tuned to hear infinite harmony.
Through the Spirit of truth within us we are able to speak the word that brings forth health, happiness, and prosperity. We are not lending our tongue to negation, criticism, or faultfinding. We are speaking words of Truth, the message of Jesus Christ.
Jesus said, “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Let us deny the claims of the personal man, overcome his sorrows and shortcomings, and follow the Christ.
We cannot do these things alone through the personal will, but we always have the help of the Spirit of truth within us. During the Lenten season we become especially aware of the desire in our hearts to expand our spiritual nature through prayer. There are multitudes praying, even as you and I are, and there is a great spiritual urge in all of us to grow, to rise to greater heights, to prove our spiritual supremacy. The power of the Spirit of truth at work in us will back us up in our desire to prove we are truly sons of God.