As I have remarked elsewhere, Lent is declining in significance in much of the Church. In large part this is down to its relation to Easter.
If we compare Lent with the other season of preparation, Advent, this becomes clear. Blogs are full of ‘getting ready for Christmas’ because ‘Christmas’ is so enticing, it occupies a vast space in our emotional psyche. What is more, for those of us in post-Christendom cultures, Christmas holds the attention of the vast majority of those amongst whom we live – and for similar reasons although we might loudly demur . . .
Whereas Lent is preparation for Easter, The explicit zenith of the Christian year. Christians are far quieter about Lent than Advent. Truly this is yet one marker of the decline of Faith amongst ‘the faithful’
Of course Lent also goes against the zeitgeist, for it calls us to bodily restraint, to fasting. [I will not pursue this in depth, but the constant warnings in contemporary writing about fasting, about the need to check first with your doctor, about the many ‘alternatives’ to fasting from food, are in and of themselves troubling markers of the decline of Faith]
Fasting is a discipline of the body, as is mutual confession . . .
Fasting is a reminder to us that we Are bodies!! That our Existence is bodily. And mutual confession, about which I’ve already written much is bodily. It involves our whole being. We do it in the presence of others whom we see hear and smell, whose own bodies take up space in more or less close proximity. We are Aware of others in ways that before the Last Day we cannot be aware of God.
Mutual confession like fasting is a Lenten discipline. It reminds us of who we are, before one another and thus before God.