Looking at Lent Through Mormon Eyes

Why do the Sistas look like they walked head first into lit cigarettes? 
Slow your roll, lets start with some warm up questions then we’ll get to that.

If you tuned into SiZ Radio a couple of Sundays ago then you know that the Sistas are observing Lent this year.
What is Lent Anyway?
Lent is a Christian observance devoting the 40 days leading to Easter to fasting, prayer and alms.
Do All Christians Observe Lent?
No. Some denominations that typically observe lent are Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Anglicans and Catholics. Among Christian faiths that do not usually observe Lent are Pentecostals, Baptists, Evangelicals and Mormons.

Why Don’t Mormons Observe Lent?
We’re the Sistas not the missionaries, ask the people at Mormon.org. Just kidding. Many of the practices of Lent are regular aspects of LDS faith, such as prayer, fasting, repentance and service, which is what peaked our interest in observing the Lenten season.
Does Everyone Observe Lent the Same Way?
Are you kidding? You can’t even get people to hang toilet paper the same way! You’ll find differences among faiths and individuals in how Lent is observed. In our quest to learn of Lent we reached out to Lisa Hendey from CatholicMom.com who schooled us on Lent from her perspective as a Roman Catholic.
How are the Mormon Sistas observing Lent?
  1. Lenten Calendar: We began the Lenten season on Ash Wednesday and will end on Easter Sunday.
  2. Food Fasting: Abstaining from meat, except for fish on all Lenten Fridays for Sista Beehive. Sista Laurel already eats this way 365 days a year. (As with our 30 Days of WoW it seems Sista Beehive does a lil’ mo’ sacrificing.) In addition we will observe our LDS practice of Fast Sunday; fasting for two consecutive meals, accompanied by prayer and offerings on the 1st Sunday of each month.
  3. Personal Fasting: During the entire Lenten season Sista Beehive is abstaining from soda. Sista Laurel is abstaining from TV and online videos.
  4. Spiritual Food: Our daily scripture study and prayer continue and we have added Daily Reflections for Lent, which consists of scripture passages, a message and a thought for meditation for each day of Lent.
  5. Almsgiving and Service: Sista Beehive is focusing on serving her family and Sista Laurel is focusing on her visiting teaching service. We will also participate in our LDS practice of Fast Offering; giving to help those in need.
What is the Purpose of Lent?
We are observing Lent as an opportunity to strengthen our personal relationships with Christ through fasting, prayer, service and scripture study. One of the things that Lisa at CatholicMom.com suggested we do to prepare for Lent was read Matthew 6. We’ll give y’all the Sistas abridged version: When we are praying, fasting and serving we shouldn’t be trippin’. Don’t call People Magazine to alert the paparazzi so the whole world can be like; look at her, she’s at Starbucks with her scriptures, she must be hip and also super spiritual. Or look at him with his face all screwed up; either he smells something real funky or that’s his I’m so famished from fasting face. We’re paraphrasing for Jesus here, but what he wants is for us to be sincere. Keep it real.
So are y’all ever going to to tell us what’s on your foreheads?
On Ash Wednesday we attended Catholic Mass, we’ve both been to Mass many times, but had never attended an Ash Wednesday service. Both of the services we attended were beautiful and the receiving of the ashes took place. The ashes are from the burning of palm leaves and symbolize human mortality and our need of repentance as we look toward the resurrection. We wore our ashes not with pride, but with humility as we each personally reflected on where we are on our path to the Father and asked for his guidance as we focus on correcting any deviations from the straight and narrow in our lives.

How did you like Mass, were the Catholics nice to the Mormons?
We both felt very welcomed by our Catholic brothers and sisters. We participated in most of the service; standing and kneeling when appropriate and the receiving of the ashes. We did not however take communion. Our first reason is that we had both attended LDS churches on Sunday where we both partook of the sacrament in remembrance of Christ’s atoning sacrifice and renewal of our baptismal covenants. Secondly, while the receiving of the ashes is what Catholics call sacramental and open to Catholics and non-Catholics, communion or Eucharist is considered a sacrament  and should for the most part be taken by those who have gone through particular steps in the Catholic faith in preparation to do so.

What were the differences between Catholic Mass and a Mormon church service?
One of the things that we enjoy when attending Mass and some services of other faiths is that there is a portion of the service where you greet your neighbors in the congregation. Another difference was that both of the Masses we attended served communion wine from a communal cup, we are both big fans of the individual cups. Although we know some folks who prefer the Catholic way of filling them with wine instead of water.

Have the Sistas learned anything new since beginning Lent?
Yes, that there’s one Wednesday a year when black people are alright with being ashy!

Do you observe Lent or have you done so in the past? What is your favorite thing about visiting churches of faiths other than your own? Yay or nay to communal sacrament cups?

Peace Be Unto You,
Sista Beehive & Sista Laurel

  • Susan Anderson

    I’ve been intrigued by Lent lately as well. Good for you getting out there and finding out more of what it’s all about!


  • I was born into a Catholic family and am well versed in all-things-Lent…..my brother and I used to make thumb print marks in each other’s ashes on Ash Wednesday, hahaa!  I still have a love of the traditions of the Catholic church, and have a deep respect for it….but I know that living the gospel as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, honouring my baptismal and temple covenants,  and serving with an open heart are what are going to help me back to my Father in Heaven.  I did soooo love to hear the Mass said in Latin, though!  My mother still calls me a “lapsed Catholic” even after 34 years, a temple marriage, two sons who served missions, and all 5 children married in the temple…..and all 18 grandchildren attending Church with their parents, lol.  Greetings from a very cold England. x

  • Draymond

    Great story. Loved your take on Lent. I think I’ll give up red meat.

  • Eichert3

    When black people are all right with being ashy!  You guys are too much!

  • ldsgirl

    Love the article! I grew up in the D.C. area, where my parents were converts after four of us were born. Our early Stake Conferences were in one of GWU’s lecture halls, and our stake went from Northern VA, where we lived, to the southern part of MD. Most of our friends were non-LDS, and the usual reply to the question of what church we went to was, “What’s Mormon?”–older folks still remembered tales of tails and horns! I went to many friends’ Sunday meetings, and they visited mine, especially when one teacher, a brother who was also a GWU professor and father of one of my Church friends had an ecumenical class. He had us visit churches of our friends and hear their leaders tell us of what they believed, and in return, they came to our church and we did the same. I never forgot this, or the lessons I learned–there really is truth everywhere. It went a long way and I still remember it might still be true what was true so often then–I could be the only Mormon somebody knows, and they may judge the entire religion by what I do and say.

  • Thank you! Best with your endeavors in no red meat, ask Sista Beehive it’s a tough one.

  • Hello our friend in England. Your mom is too funny, we love that you are 34 year lapsed Catholic…lol. We saw some of the kids promptly begin to play with their ashes during Mass, sure there were a few thump prints too.

  • We are enjoying our time learning about Lent and observing it in our own way.

  • It’s true! At all other times there is no excuse to be ashy! #LotionIsOurBestFriend

  • Walter_wilkinson

    You guys are a breath of fresh air. You make an old white man want to be a Sista in Zion.

  • Nicole Guzman

    “alright being ashy”….I’m still laughing over that line. 🙂 My first teaching position was in a Catholic school. I was the only non-Catholic teacher there, but they were so kind to me. I have attended many churches, and at every one I have either been attacked directly for being Mormon, or heard Mormon-bashing over the pulpit. In four years at a Catholic school, which included some Sunday masses and mass every Friday and every holiday, they were nothing but kind and respectful towards me. I have a great respect for the Catholic faith. …and all that standing, kneeling, and responding is great for making sure you don’t fall asleep! 😉

  • Ramona Gordy

    This is one of those things that make you go “hmmmmm….” LOL:)
    I grew up a Southern Baptist attending Catholic school as a kid. Loved the classes, but as a kid, I could not reconcile going to “church” more than one day a week. The mass was in Latin and my mom told us not to take communion. But I do remember Ash Wed, which followed Fat Tuesday, I am a Louisiana girl, and ash Wed was the day anyone could leave class, see a priest, repent of any perceived sins and give up one juicy sin for at least a month, and get an “ash’ cross on your forehead.You were were “special” for a day. Southern Baptists just didn’t have anything to compare to that.

    But seriously, since joining the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS, I have found a more excellent way. I have given review to things in my life I want to “shed” and be free of. I challenged myself to a 40 item non food fast, that is contingent on my own faithfulness to change.It is ongoing  and for each “change” I want to incorporate, involves real prayer and real fasting and real sacrifice
    .For me, I have found that the purpose of any personal sacrifice is to learn to trust more in our Heavenly Father.   
    Thank you ladies


  • Blackmormongirl

    Sistas!! This will be my third year rolling in Lent this season. I love studying on how other Christians celebrate and focus on the different holiday seasons. One of my blog questions of the day was “things you would never give up for Lent” I day toilet paper. But my favorite answer was Rick Astly. Lent allows me to learn how to be happy ashy.

  • What and awesome professor, it’s so true we can learn great lessons and  make life long friends by being spiritually diverse.

  • You two are always entertaining. I enjoyed your explanations on Lent; they whys and therefore. I thought it was very fun to that you attended the Catholic meetings. As a Hospice nurse I have attended the funerals of many different faiths.. I learned a lot about their beliefs. I learned quite a bit more about the reason for lent today; thanks!
    Blessings for the added knowledge today!

  • We love your 40 item non-food fast! You know as with all religious practices there are those who do their best to follow by faith and those who will toe the line. Fat Tuesday is one of those toe the line things, it’s not how Lent is supposed to be, but there are those that observe that way.

  • Yes, toilet paper would be a very hard one to give up and Rick is speaking our language…lol!

  • We can honestly say we did not dose off once during mass, the Catholics might be on to something there…lol. We’ve attended some churches where some of the people try to make us feel a little uncomfortable because they know we are LDS. (http://www.sistasinzion.com/2011/04/that-aint-right.html) It makes us be extra cognizant of those visiting our faith and do our best to never pass that discomfort on.

  • We take old white men too…consider yourself an official member of the SISTAhood!

  • Funerals because they are often in churches is a place where you can see how a church really is because they are supporting  their members through a very hard time. You must have had many experiences as a hospice nurse, it seems a very trying, but rewarding career.