Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Seeking Personal Renewal Lent Encourages Spiritual Rebirth

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Seeking Personal Renewal Lent Encourages Spiritual Rebirth

Article excerpt

Just a few years ago, as the season of Lent was approaching, the

Rev. John Palarine already was praying hard.

"I probably shouldn't admit this, but priests and ministers

have up and down times in their lives," said Palarine, rector of

Church of Our Savior in Jacksonville.

The more he prayed for God to fix his problem, the more

difficult it became. Still, he kept praying.

During Lent, Christians of many denominations enter into

sometimes painful spiritual introspection. The 40-day season,

which began two days ago with Ash Wednesday, is meant to help

believers prepare for remembrance of the death and resurrection

of Christ as Easter approaches.

And, through prayer and acts of penance, believers hope to

experience spiritual rebirth, or renewal, in their own lives.

Palarine, an Episcopal priest for 25 years, said his life

turned around when his "Lord, fix this" Lenten prayers

transformed into "Lord, help me be close to you again."

His intense self-examination told him he had pulled away from

God.

"For me," he said, "that was sort of a death and resurrection

experience, once again renewing my relationship with Christ. . .

. It's really going that deep, being willing to enter into the

wilderness in order to go toward the promised land."

Lent began about 400 A.D. as a Roman Catholic practice meant to

prepare new believers for baptism at Easter. It has evolved into

a period of introspection among Episcopal, Lutheran, Orthodox

and now other churches.

"I'm noticing Methodist and other churches that are putting up

crosses and celebrating Lent in a pretty much traditional

fashion," said the Rev. Lee Magneson, who has been pastor of

Mandarin Lutheran Church for 13 1/2 years. "I'm hearing people,

especially in the last 10 years, focusing on more of a spiritual

experience, looking for more of a spiritual base in their

lives."

This year, evangelicals like religious broadcaster Pat

Robertson and Bill and Vonnette Bright of Campus Crusade for

Christ are asking 2 million Christians to fast and pray for

revival from March 1 to April 9. …

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