O LORD God, who seest that we put not our trust in any thing we do; Mercifully grant that by thy power we may be defended against all adversity; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
The Season of Pre-Lent teaches us valuable lessons in preparation for Lent. The temptation for us with disciplines such as Lenten fasting is that we go contrary to the first part of the Collect Prayer for this week, to put trust in the things we do. Pre-Lent teaches us that no matter how rigorous our spiritual disciplines may be, we should not trust in these things to the point we take our trust off Jesus Christ. This is the temptation with any discipline. It is simply part of our human nature when we are doing something well to draw attention to our perceived progress. This is most detrimental and misses the point of spiritual disciplines. The second we seek the approval of others is the point we have turned what should be a good thing into the obstacle of pride. These “look at me” moments are often subtle and slowly build up to the point before we know it, our eyes our focused inward for defense and off Christ. The point of Pre-Lent pointing us to Lent is to remind us of humility, “we put not our trust in any thing we do.” The problem with large segments of the Church dropping the season of Pre-Lent is that it can cheapen the Season of Lent. We live in a time where the strong pull is to ditch as much of the penitential side of Holy Scripture and Christian practice as possible. All spiritual disciplines, especially penitence, must be entered with a great deal of preparation. Pre-Lent provides this needed time. The modern tendency to keep the time in the Christian Calendar as “ordinary time” to drop us upon Ash Wednesday with a sudden jolt is not helpful. The wisdom in a three week Season of Pre-Lent slowly prepares us to enter Lent not with a jolt, but with our eyes open and ready to enter Lent in grace and humility, with the proper focus of not trusting in what we do, but in trusting in Jesus Christ fully through all we do to His glory alone.