Fridays in Lent

Perhaps because I am writing this half asleep, after a week of short nights and long days and a particularly full one yesterday (BBC TV were filming a short feature for Breakfast TV on 23 March, we had guests for supper, there was a loaded inbox, deadlines to meet, you know the kind of thing: a leisurely day in the monastery), I am wondering what my Friday penance ought to be. The custom of marking Fridays, especially Fridays in Lent, as days when we perform some special act of penance is a very salutary one, in both senses of the word; but practically speaking, when one already has a Lenten programme spelled out in one’s Lent Bill (Benedictines) or in one’s resolutions for Lent (everyone else), Fridays are a problem. What does one give up or take on that is not already covered?

Some people read through at least part of the Passion in the early afternoon, on their knees. That means stopping what they are doing, which is not easy, especially when trying to meet a deadline, and switching to another mode, one which acknowledges that God is more important than anything we think important. Reading the Passion narrative in this way does have a penitential aspect but, more significantly, it reminds us why penance on Fridays is encouraged.

I don’t recommend that you should kneel down in your office or on your factory floor on Friday afternoon and get out your New Testament unless you want to be the cynosure of neighbouring eyes, but if you too find the whole question of Friday penance rather perplexing, maybe you could find something just as simple that would be a help to you. It is not what we do but the love which accompanies it that matters. I’m not sure what I shall do today, but I’m pretty sure you will never know. The other aspect of Friday penance is keeping it a secret between God and ourselves.

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4 thoughts on “Fridays in Lent”

  1. It is not what we do but the love which accompanies it that matters.
    I was thinking of a blog in the wee hours of the morning and thought that indeed we are created (born) primarily to love. It can take a long time to get there when it does not feel safe to love, or simply practical or reasonable or efficient or money-making enough. But anything else, without this love, may be off the track.
    Reading the Passion on Friday sounds like a really good idea. Especially during Lent. Thank you.

  2. Thank you. Your posts always remind me of things in a very gentle and humerous way. Something simple is good as it stops me thinking I’m doing great things for God. Need to think now!

  3. As per an earlier comment about my reading your blog: it’s not supposed to be penance 🙂 but a spiritual exercise, I suppose.

    But as for penance on Fridays… a very interesting thing to ponder. But I won’t say either what I came up with. I am glad I am not supposed to say it as I would be much too embarrassed.

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