LENT REFLECTIONS – MORE THAN GIVING UP

For this cool Catholic although the Lent season has come and gone, that doesn’t mean I’m now free to gorge myself on Friday night steaks. I’m reflecting on how I’ve treated this season—and BWAHAHA I conquered the sacrifice, but fell prey to the works… and wondered if I grew.

During Lent Catholics are called to fasting, prayer, and charity in spiritual preparation for Jesus rising from the dead aka Easter aka pivotal powerful moment in Christianity. I promise not to rant on the devolution of Easter into grocery aisles of candy in the shape of marshmallow chicks. I decided to give up meat and top-40 type music and stations. And I also decided to read at least four Christian books and add more daily prayers.

Wahhh - No Korean BBQ
Wahhh – No Korean BBQ

The giving up part wasn’t difficult. My evenings were were fish-filled dinners serenaded by Christian music (or showtunes… hey! Don’t judge me!!!) Note: I’m not a carnivorous tiger poo-pooing at salads, and I was sure I’d survive without hearing “Drunken Love” for a while. But my past habits did enough of both to still have me pause a few times last month and think… “Awww I forgot it’s Lent.” But within a week I didn’t miss either. I became more creative in cooking seafood and replacing my protein through other means. I discovered danceable Christian artists. I listened to podcasts. And because of how fun all of that was, looking back sometimes I feel like the message of ‘fasting’ was lost on me. Did I REALLY understand WHY I had given up those things?

“What are you giving up for Lent?” If you’re a church-going Catholic who is even marginally aware of this season called Lent then you’ve most likely heard this question. It’s a pretty standard question this time of the year—almost as eye-roll inducing as “Did you make any New Year’s resolutions?” After my relatively breezy ‘giving up’ season, I quickly realized the real challenge of Lent came with the other two—prayer and charity.

Cross at St. Elizabeth Seton in NaplesCompared to giving up something, DOING SOMETHING was much more difficult. I successfully finished one book (The Catholic Church and Science by Benjamin Wiker) a mere five days before Easter. No way could I cram three more books before Jesus rose! Meanwhile prayer times were often met with reluctance or ignorance because I’d rather do something else… dirty dishes don’t wait! And charity? Pssssh. True- I did volunteer time with several faith-based organizations and I also donated some money to the church… but any more than usual? Nope. And I definitely had the time and means.

But during those times I did read, pray or volunteer I experienced God more than in my giving up meat. I think from now on my Lenten sacrifice will involve sacrificing my me-time for God.

So… According to programs involving steps, I guess realizing a problem is the first step to conquering it? And my problem is I was doing stuff for Easter, but I wasn’t doing them with the goal of glorifying God. And I’m not a child or crowd-following teen. I’m a young lady who should know better. But faith is a life’s journey, and I’m thankful this journey doesn’t stop at Easter.

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