This morning on my Facebook page, in honor of the fact that today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent, I posted the following status update:
“Mormons don’t participate in Lent because being Mormon is like Lent 24/7. The only thing left to give up is dessert. & NO ONE’S TAKING THAT FROM ME!” –Jenna Jones, comedian/Script P.A. at The Daily Show
As a Mormon, the quote made me laugh pretty hard, because, good grief, it sure feels true! I don’t drink (alcohol, coffee, or tea), don’t smoke, don’t have sex (cuz I’m not married), no porn, no rated R movies or other morally questionable media … so really. What’s left?! My fellow Mormon friends got a good laugh out of it too and a few shared it on their walls. But in the comments that followed the update, one friend (who is not a Mormon) asked, “So, Mormons really don’t participate in Lent? Or was she just saying that?”
I didn’t realize that friends of other faiths might not know we don’t particpate in Lent, so I tried to explain to my best ability. My response was this:
No, we really don’t. At least not a “sponsored by the Church” observance of Lent. A Mormon could certainly observe Lent if he/she wanted to. There’s no rule stating we can’t. But it’s not a practice of the general Church population.
As for a reason why … the quote above, though said in jest, is actually kind of true. We essentially practice Lent all year long. We fast once a month, partake of the sacrament (i.e. communion) weekly, seek to live by a strict health code, live the law of chastity, evaluate (continually) one’s life/habits in comparison to the commandments and example of Christ, and focus on spiritual sanctification through daily prayer, daily study, and daily repentance.
By no means are we perfect at doing all of that every day of every year, but that’s what we’re striving for every day of every year.
This is not to say that Easter isn’t an incredibly important holiday to us. Because it is. And we each look forward to, and prepare for it in different worshipful ways as individuals, families, and congregations. For example, I’m reading the four gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John) with particular focus on the final week of Christ’s life as the weeks lead up to Easter.
Also, as a Church, we are very focused on the events that occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane and the resurrection from the tomb. We are certain of the fact that Christ suffered for us in the Garden and in the reality that he rose from the dead. We believe in a Living Christ (as in, He’s alive right now) who is intimately involved in our salvation and exaltation and works daily with our Heavenly Father in our behalf.
I have reposted this exchange at the request of my friend and hope my response helps shed some light on one aspect of my Mormon faith. I welcome any further questions regarding this, or any other, subject. I would also like to say that I deeply respect all faiths, Christian and otherwise. I find that my own faith and my dedication to it is only enhanced when I learn about other belief systems and I would hope that any comments or questions posed here reflect a similar spirit of respect and generosity.