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Lent begins for Christian communities

(Published February 22, 1999)


Staff Writer

The season of Lent is quietly underway in the District, as many Christians in the city prepare for Easter through prayer, reflection, study and worship. The 40 days before Easter are a season of preparation, in the same way that Advent is preparation for Christmas.

Lent is a somber time of penance and self-denial, said Joanne O’Donnell of the Catholic Information Center of Washington’s Roman Catholic archdiocese. Many people abstain from festivities and concentrate on religious activities and almsgiving.

"It’s sacrificing in order to help you love God and love people more," O’Donnell said. People may decide to give up small luxuries, like chocolate. Catholic church law requires practicing Catholics to go without meat on Fridays during Lent.

O’Donnell said almsgiving is also a major part of Lent. She said this year Cardinal James Hickey made a national appeal for more than $9 million for Catholic charities, the homeless, and scholarships.

The Archdiocese of Washington is also sponsoring a series of lectures and programs for Lent.

Among other Lenten programs offered throughout the city is a lecture series on "The Fatherhood of God" at St. Matthews Cathedral in Northwest. "One Father, One Family" begins Feb. 23 and continues through March 25.

Parishioners at St. Alban’s Episcopal Church at Wisconsin and Massachusetts avenues NW participate in a form of meditation called taize. "Centering Prayer with Taize Meditation" will be presented at the church on Thursday evenings beginning Feb. 25. The Rev. David Wolf, who leads the evening, describes taize meditation as contemplative, and the evening includes a holy supper with as few words as possible and a capella music.

"It’s a good segue into meditation and prayer," he said. "Lent is about looking inward for the year."

Worshippers at Calvary Baptist Church, 755 Eighth St. NW, spend Lent in fellowship and study. On each Wednesday night of Lent, dinner will be served in the church hall, followed by several workshops. On. Feb. 24, the video series "The Trial and Testimony of the Early Church" will be shown. The video is followed by an informal jam session titled "International Music."

The Augustana Lutheran Church, 2100 New Hampshire Ave. NW, will focus on readings of the Old Testament at 10:30 a.m. every Sunday from Feb. 28-March 21. Other activities include a soup and bread dinner for those fasting each Wednesday, followed by worship.

Copyright 1999, The Common Denominator