Thursday, March 04, 2010

Lent Seasoning

When we use the word "season" for Lent, we are usually referring to the period of fourty days of preparation before Easter. But the word "season" also bears another meaning, which the dictionary defines as "to improve and enhance the flavour of food"

I remember when I was young, there was this Maggi Seasoning in its uniquely shaped bottle, that I would add to my half boiled eggs to enhance the taste and flavour. This same seasoning was used by my mum to marinate everthing from chicken and pork to stir-fried vegetables.

It is this image of seasoning and marinating that I find relevant to the season of Lent. When we season a piece of meat before cooking, we usually cover the meat with the seasoning, making sure that it is completely covered, sometimes even rubbing or massaging so that the seasoning will go into the meat. Often we would leave the meat to soak in the seasoning to allow the flavour to soak all the way through.

Similarly when we look at our "Lenten Seasoning", we are given forty days to be "marinated" by the various Lenten Practices that we are undertaking. First what are we seasoning ourselves with? There are the 3 practices of Fasting, Almsgiving and Prayer that the Church recommends as the best seasoning. Because they help us look at 3 areas in our lives. Fasting looks at our lives and what are the things that we have allowed to take control of our lives, not just food, but other distractions or addictions. Almsgiving makes us look at others, not just about giving money, but giving our time, energy and love. And prayer of course makes us turn back to God.

Meat that is seasoned properly makes it tender, enhances the taste, and it is not just on the surface that it can be washed away. So too our Lenten Seasoning, has to be something that transforms us internally. The effects of our fasting cannot be that we lose weight, but are we tempering our desires and feelings. Our almsgiving cannot result just in a lighter wallet, but are we more aware of the needs of others and growing in our relationships. And our prayer has to result in an increase in our relationship and love of God. Though we will stop our lenten practices at Easter, the effects of a properly "seasoned" person will continue in the lives we lead.

So let us pray that our Lenten Seasoning this year may not just be "garnishing" that is put on externally and just looks nice, but that it will truly transform us within to be tastier, tender and holier when we celebrate the gift of New Life at Easter.