Christmas isn't always a time of joy for Christians. We lament that Advent is forgotten. We get upset by the secularness on display in every store. We buy car magnets that say "Keep Christ in Christmas" and say things like "War on Christmas" or "The meaning of Christmas is lost." This is because the American culture has appropriated Christmas and watered it down. To secular America Christmas is all about the gift giving and shopping and the eating of foods. We Christians wonder what happened to our Christmas as we struggle to hold onto it and keep it's true meaning.
In that vein of appropriation, I've been aware that some Christians have been fasting during Ramadan in solidarity with Muslims. It's something to take up with an abundance of caution. It's a season of worship for Muslims, and while Christians worship the same God the Father, it's important to understand that Muslims do not believe in a triune God. Christ is down graded to a prophet. When he deserves latria, he receives dulia from Muslims.
Lent is upon us. This is apparently the second year of #Muslims4Lent. Muslims are posting selfies and holding signs that read what they are giving up for Lent. In conversing with one, he views this as an act of solidarity with Christians. It's a small act. It's not full worship. This is wrong.
The Catechism says about Lent:
1438: The seasons and days of penance in the course of the liturgical year (Lent, and each Friday in memory of the death of the Lord) are intense moments of the Church's penitential practice. These times are particularly appropriate for spiritual exercises, penitential liturgies, pilgrimages as signs of penance, voluntary self-denial such as fasting and almsgiving, and fraternal sharing (charitable and missionary works).
None of this describes something as small acts. The exact wording is that it is "intense moments." The very act of Lent (and each Friday) is meant as a form of worship of the Lord's death. Elsewhere in the Catechism it says there are 40 days akin to the Lord's time in the desert. That's the point of Lent. All penitential practices are to commemorate the Lord's death. It's worshiping God the Son, which Muslims do not believe in.
While it sounds all nice and cozy for a Muslim to take up Lent, in doing so without understanding it's meaning, a Muslim is essentially watering Lent down. Christmas is about the birth of Christ, but secularly it's about gift-giving generosity (which is a small aspect). Likewise fasting for the sake of solidarity with Christians is completely missing that the meaning of Lent is an act of penitence to commemorate the death of Christ. Just like Christians mourn that Christmas is loosing it's true meaning, my fear is that by Muslims taking up Lent, Lent will become secularized and lose it's true meaning. It's not appropriate.
If a Muslim wishes to celebrate Lent as it is supposed to be, great. Please do. But do not celebrate Lent in solidarity with Christians. That's an insult. It's not giving Christ his due. Just stop now. Thanks.