Yup, it’s THAT time of year again. Lent. It seems to be the season that people either fear or embrace. I’ve seen it go from one extreme to the other. (Why not just have a second Advent?)
Lent is a time for prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Lent is sacrifice. It’s a time when people give up guilty pleasures(chocolate being one of the biggest). But what does it all mean? According to dictionary.com, sacrifice is“
Lent lasts for forty days, because Jesus went into the desert for forty days (Matthew 4:1-21). While Jesus was in the desert, the devil tempted him three times and failed all three times. Jesus did not eat during the entire time. Jesus sacrificed.
Now for us, we’re asked to give something up during Lent, but one can also add something. For example, one could spend more time in Adoration, pray the rosary, read Sacred Scripture before bedtime, etc. Anything to grow closer to God. It is through sacrifice that we come to know God. Adding to your prayer life can do wonders. From personal experience, it helped me to become more disciplined in prayer, because it’s exactly what I needed. To become more Christ like, we need to sacrifice.
Fasting is normally food-related, but actually you can fast from anything. Video games, alcohol, television. Stuff that takes up time that you could be using for God. When you fast, you’re doing yourself a favor in the end. Fasting is rewarding. Giving up a worldly pleasure is tough, but it’s achievable. In giving up something pleasurable and being successful in doing so, you prove to yourself that you are able to offer things up for Christ. It shows that you have discipline and perseverance, no matter how hard it may seem.
“The works of mercy are charitable actions by which we come to the aid of our neighbor in his spiritual and bodily necessities. Instructing, advising, consoling, comforting are spiritual works of mercy, as are forgiving and bearing wrongs patiently. The corporal works of mercy consist especially in feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity: it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.” (CCC 2447).
Lent is about more than just giving up things. It’s the meaning behind it. Are you giving up something simply because it’s something you have to do as a Catholic, or are you doing it to deny yourself the pleasures of the flesh and the world, to pick up your cross and follow Christ?
At the end of the Lenten season we have the Easter Triduum, then Easter. On Holy Thursday, we experience the Last Supper of Christ and the Apostles. We learn that the bread and wine are the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ. We experience the Agony in the Garden before the soldiers come to arrest Christ. On Good Friday, we experience the Way of the Cross on His way to Golgotha. We then experience the death and burial of Christ. On Easter Sunday, we experience the resurrection of Christ!
Jesus gave up, SACRIFICED HIS LIFE for us so that we may have salvation in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Jesus sacrificed His life out of LOVE for us. The least we can do is sacrifice the pleasures of this world out of love for Him. We Christians, who claim to love Jesus, need to show it! The time for comfortable Catholicism is over! We need to stand up, be Catholic and act like it.
Lent is a beautiful season. Sacrifice is beautiful. When you truly sacrifice, you say that you love Jesus enough to deny yourself the pleasures of this world, to pick up your cross and to follow Him. Don’t treat this Lent as something you feel like you have to do. Treat it like it’s supposed to be treated. Treat it like a Catholic.
Repent, and believe the Gospel.
Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.