I’m guilty of sometimes treating Lent like New Year’s resolution time.
At the start of each Lent, I go around the table asking everyone what they are giving up, doing, not doing etc. You get the picture. I then spend the next 40 days giving stink eye to my kids (and maybe my husband) who are slipping up on their sacrifice.
When I was younger, I used to try and convince my parents to let me give up piano practice for Lent. I thought that was entirely holy and a sacrifice I was willing to make for Jesus. As I got older, I usually chose some sort of dietary sacrifice.
Who doesn’t want to drop a few lbs. for the Lord?
It wasn’t until I was a little more mature in my faith that I really understood the true meaning of Lent and how to use the time for His glory. I’ve even worked on dropping the “Mom guilt” on my family.
In the Catholic Church, Lent is a time to prepare our hearts and minds for Easter. In our church, we aren’t MADE to give up something. We aren’t told that this is a mandatory means to attain heavenly favor. We are, however, encouraged to use the season of Lent to go into the desert with Jesus through prayer, fasting, almsgiving, simplicity and love.
We unite our very small sacrifices with Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice for our sins.
Each year, I try and do better. Isn’t that what our faith journey is about? Failing and trying again. I have learned that giving up something to satisfy my desires—weight loss, freedom from the chains of the piano bench—is not a true participation in Jesus’ suffering. These days, I try and do something that brings me closer to Him.
In years past, I’ve committed to regular adoration during Lent, joined a prayer group, written letters to family members who I don’t see often, daily rosaries, devotion to the Divine Mercy etc. These have been times of transformation in my heart. Like any new season in the Church (and secular world, for that matter), I’m excited for Lent this year. Excited to grow closer to Jesus and excited to plan our Easter celebration. I love a good celebration.