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Tuesday, February 17, 2004

Why did we give up fasting for Lent?

Once upon a time, Unitarians and Universalists fasted — you know, took a break from the normal routine in order to refocus the spirit and put themselves back on the right path. But they apparently gave up fasting one year for Lent and then lost track of time. These days, Unitarian Universalists amble on without any of the encumbrances of self-denial, renunciation, or confession that make every other religion so darn melancholy. (Irony alert: I am gently mocking my tribe here, folks. I like melancholy in my religion.)

But Matthew Gatheringwater has been to the library, and reports (2.16.04):

Unitarians used to keep a holiday called Fast Day, kind of a spring bookend to Thanksgiving Day. As I understand it, it was a time of repentance and renewal of purpose and the Fast Day sermons I've read usually offered a religious response to the sins of the nation. Universalists, too, addressed the religious need for self-examination, repentance, and resolve. Recently, I've come across a whole series of Lenten manuals published by the Universalist Publishing House in the first part of the twentieth century. They are fascinating to me. I've never seen anything like them.

So he extends an invitation: From February 25 (Ash Wednesday) through April 11 (Easter), he's going to lead an e-mail meditation group through Horace Westwood's 1939 Universalist Lenten meditation manual, The Great Avowal. It's part of Matthew's UU Books ministry. Go ahead: Give Lent a chance.

Copyright © 2004 by Philocrites | Posted 17 February 2004 at 6:12 PM

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