Many church leaders would describe Lent as having three essential parts: almsgiving, prayer, and fasting. But how that translates into a modern day practice can vary, said Toth.
Most people choose to give up something as their fast. Toth said chocolate and coffee are very common, and she has also seen people give up Facebook.
Instead of giving something up, Toth often chooses to take on a new challenge. Regardless of what discipline someone chooses, she said it’s all part of the process leading up to Easter, of preparing oneself and deepening spiritually.
“Trying to live with a discipline also shows me how easily I fail in it,” she said, adding how it also shows her how much she depends on the community, other Christians, and God.
This year, Toth’s added discipline will be five minutes of meditation after prayer. It will involve just sitting in silence, listening attentively to God, and removing distractions from her mind.
“My life is too busy,” said Toth, who hopes the five minutes will grow into a longer time and that she will be able to continue the practice once Lent has finished.
Katie Ottley, a U of R student, will also be taking on a discipline for Lent.
“I’m going to make time every day to engage in something I would not normally do,” she said. “For example, one day I might decide I’m going to go to a coffee shop and talk to a stranger.”
Though a Christian tradition, Lent is usually only observed by the liturgical churches, such as the Catholic, Anglican, United, and Lutheran Church.
New to the Lutheran Church, Ottley first started practicing Lent two years ago. She gave up sugary drinks, and found it wasn’t as difficult as she thought it would be.
“You’re doing it alongside a whole bunch of other people, who all have their own choices as to what they want to do, but you’re doing it as a group and there’s kind of a group solidarity piece to it,” she said.
Ottley has a process in deciding what she will do for Lent each year.
“For me, it’s a matter of looking at what am I called to do.”
She tries to connect her discipline during Lent to her spirituality. Among her list of new things to try daily include yoga and guided meditation.
“The concept of Lent is to do something or to give up something in order to become closer to God and to trust whatever you’re doing will work out. And basically my intention is to do things that may or may not work out very well, and trust that they will.”