WELCOME to a new weekly feature we’re adding to ReadTheSpirit
online. For more than a year, “What’s the Spiritual Season?” has been
the most popular part of our free, weekly E-mailed “Planner.” (Click here to see a sample of this weekly newsletter and learn how to get this free service.) SO, HERE IS …
What’s the Spiritual Season?
(March 2 to 8, 2009)
By Stephanie Fenton
Fasting, praying, leaping hours
Mark this season of spring showers.
Rhymes are apt (and a bit of mirth)
As we start a week with Seuss’s birth.
STARTING ON A SWEET NOTE, today marks the 105th anniversary of the birth of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Whether debating the merits of green eggs and ham, cats in hats or a green, Grinch-y monster who learns to love Christmas — no one can doubt this writer’s enduring legacy. EVIDENCE of that impact was obvious this morning as millions of people opened up Google to find the Seuss version of “Google” above!
For millions of Orthodox Christian families around the world, this is a fasting week as Great Lent begins on what Eastern Christians refer to as Clean Monday.
The single most important day of the Orthodox Christian year – Pascha (Easter) – is seven weeks away. Eastern Christians count their 40 days of Lent differently than Western Christians. The Orthodox calendar counts Sundays toward the total, then the fasting continues through Holy Week and concludes with Pascha.
During this fast, Orthodox Christians abstain from meat, dairy and fish, allowing wine and oil only on Sundays.
So just what do Orthodox Christians eat during this fast? Most likely something similar to this recipe by Nancy Gaifyllia, the Greek-food expert at About.com. This is a special cornbread with a yummy dash of orange juice.
Orthodox are not alone in fasting this week. Baha’is shift focus from the body to the spirit. Today marks the beginning of the last month in the Baha’i calendar, recognized as March 2-20. This period also is known as The 19-Day Fast and, much like the Muslim practice in Ramadan, Baha’i men and women fast from sunrise to sunset, taking extra care to pray and meditate. These are preparations for a new beginning: the coming New Year (Naw-Ruz). The 19-Day Fast recalls that, down through history, messengers of God have experienced extended periods of fasting. In today’s terms, think of resisting the tasty lure of a fast-food hamburger as symbolic of resisting the temptation to sin.
Women’s World Day of Prayer unites Christians around the globe on Friday with a special focus on Papua New Guinea this year. Christians from almost 200 countries are involved. First conceptualized in the 19th century, this day unites women in their mission and role in the church, as well as individuals’ relationships with Christ. This year, the women of Papua New Guinea invite others to recall the confidence of Ruth, who abandoned everything and traveled to a new land with Naomi. This year also recognizes the non-violent intervention of the women of Exodus, who helped to move God’s people from bondage to deliverance. To contact a WWDP committee member in your country, visit this special regional contact page.
As Saturday rolls into Sunday March 8 this week, you may want to think fondly of Benjamin Franklin. Daylight Savings Time begins! If you think this observance is a bit puzzling — it is! Wikipedia provides a very detailed look at the complex DST practices around the world. In the U.S., the rules changed with an act of Congress in 2005, when DST was extended. The period now starts on the second Sunday each March, several weeks earlier than past practice (and it ends on the first Sunday in November, a week later than before).
Then, here’s a coincidence for this timely week’s spiritual observances. Perhaps poetry is a key to genius. After all, Dr. Seuss wasn’t the only one to pen rhymes that reshaped American culture. Remember this by early DST-advocate Benjamin Franklin?
Early to bed,
And early to rise,
Makes a — (errr, let’s say) Makes people healthy,
Wealthy and Wise.