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LENT

The real Lent is the putting forth of a man's hand to quiet his own passions and to push them aside, that the higher voices may speak to him and the higher touches fall upon him. It is the: making of an emptiness about the soul, that the higher fullness may fill it. Perhaps some day the lower needs may themselves become, and dignify themselves by becoming, the meek interpreters and ministers of those very powers which they once shut out from the soul. There will be no fasting days, no Lent, in heaven. Not because we shall have no bodies there, but because our bodies there will be open to God, the helps and not the hindrances of spiritual communication to our souls.
      - Unattributed Author

When thou a fast would'st keep,
  Make not thy homage cheap,
    By publishing its signs to every eye;
      But let it be between Thyself and the Unseen,
        So shall it gain acceptance from on high.
      - Bernard Barton

Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
  But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face;
    That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.
      - Bible, Matthew (ch. VI, v. 16-18)

For no law of spiritual life is more certain or more imperative than this law of mortification. There cannot be such a thing as the perseverance in Christian life of an unmortified Christian who has come to years of discretion. Obedience, we repeat, is religion; and mortification is the essential condition of obedience, for it is the condition of its actual expression and of the recovery of that spiritual freedom without which that expression is impossible for sinful men.
      - George Body

Now are the days, of humblest prayer,
  When consciences to God lie bare,
    And mercy most delights to spare.
      Oh hearken when we cry.
        Now is the season, wisely long,
          Of sadder thought and graver song,
            When ailing souls grow well and strong.
              Oh hearken when we cry.
                The feast of penance! Oh so bright,
                  With true conversion's heavenly light,
                    Like sunrise after stormy night!
                      Oh hearken when we cry.
                        Oh happy time of blessed tears,
                          Of surer hopes, of chast'ning fears,
                            Undoing all our evil years.
                              Oh hearken when we cry.
                                Chastise us with Thy fear;
                                  Yet, Father! in the multitude
                                    Of Thy compassions, hear!
      - Rev. Frederick William Faber

Our Saviour's fast, like every act of His life, bears the character of an example, and instructs us that this particular exercise of religion, while it exposes to temptations of its own, is yet in itself a great preliminary safeguard against sin--a source of facility for vanquishing all temptation. That there are demoniacal possessions which no means without this can reach effectually, is the express assertion of our Saviour on another occasion: and His example here, no less than His precept to His chosen followers there, instructs us forcibly that, while Christianity is the most mild and liberal of institutions, its founder, no preacher in the desert like Elias, or His forerunner the Baptist, but one who came "eating and drinking," as His censors remarked, neither fearfully flying nor morosely disdaining the ordinary converse and habits of mankind,--it yet requires the highest prudence and assistances of grace proportional, to maintain this intercourse with the world either with safety to ourselves or benefit to others: and these assistances are to be found where our Lord and Saviour Himself sought them--in occasional retirements, in meditation, prayer, and fasting.
      - W.H. Mill

There's winter on the hills to-day,
  The sad wind soughs o'er churchyard knolls,
    And weary nature seems to say,
      "'Tis Lenten-tide for sinful souls."
        The barb is in our heart to-day;
          Sore crushed with sense of ail and sin,
            We feebly strive and faintly pray,
              'Gainst danger near, for grace within,
                We mourn our pride and passion's stain,
                  The earthly in our hearts enshrined;
                    The rebel flesh, too oft in vain
                      Commanded by the nobler mind;
                        And all of human curse or care
                          Which lurks life's dangerous paths among,
                            To quench the altar-flame of prayer,
                              Or hush the heavenward strain of song.
      - William Morley Punshon


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