Catholic Blogs

Writings to help you Find your way Home

I’ve Changed My Mind About Lent…

If there ever was a Catholic season I agonized over, it was lent. In my earlier years, I dreaded this time of year. As I watched it slowly creep up on the liturgical calendar, my misery set in. Oh  the joyful and celebratory seasons of  Christmas and Easter!  Even Ordinary time was pleasant, because it was well… ordinary. But Lent was like a child whose been grounded. For me, lent was a time of misery.

Lent was hard because I thought God wanted to make me feel miserable to punish. Going to Catholic school the idea of sacrifice was drilled into my head, and frankly I didn’t want to give things up. I didn’t want to discipline or sacrifice. Jesus died for our sins and we were saved. I already understood that, wasn’t that enough?

But as life takes us places and time surprises with sorrows, we sacrifice whether we want to or not. God never promises our lives will be easy or even perfect. If we get let go from a job, we must learn to budget until we can find another one, we must sacrifice the potato chips to keep the cholesterol low, we sacrifice sleep to wake up early for an important event.

Sacrifice and suffering are part of who we are and who we must be, but it’s the sacrifices we choose as a means of atonement vs the sacrifices we are required to, that make the difference.

The more we try to escape misery, it seems all the more God puts it back in our face until we accept it. After losing my mom, having a relative leave the Church, and enduring my own family struggles I realized that lent is so much more because its really about love.

I realized that lent is so much more because its really about love.

Pray, fasting and almsgiving, is about love. Its about becoming less centered on ourselves and detaching from things that keep us from God. God uses those moments of suffering to draw us to Him. So when we offer up sacrifices we allow our will to be consumed by His Will.

In fasting  we can remove the attachment of worldly things that separates us from God. In prayer, we draw closer to Him in deep communion, In almsgiving we offer charity he wants us to show to our neighbor. I used to dread lent, but now I see the beauty of the season. I look forward to this time of year even more because it disciplines me to grow towards God. Afterall, He’s our father and he knows what’s best for me.

What changed my mind about Lent?

 It’s hard to pinpoint one circumstance, but I’d say a couple factors contributed:

  • I stopped focusing on what I was missing out on and started focusing on what I was gaining.
  • In changing my perception I  stopped focusing solely on myself. As a result, I looked at Lent through the eyes of Jesus and how this perception is less about my own needs but others.
  • Lent is really a training ground for how we should love our neighbor and sacrifice and how to love God all year long.

How can you look at Lent differently this year?

With fasting have purpose:

For many years I realized I was fasting for the wrong reasons. If we don’t know our why, then its like driving a car but not knowing how to operate the vehicle or knowing our destination.  I originally did it because I was “suppose to” but now I do it because I see how my sacrifice can be a spiritual penance for someone who doesn’t offer up those sacrifices. I fast now because I know that even Jesus fasted to detach from the flesh. I fast now because it makes me less selfish and more intentional. I fast now because God calls us to offer up sacrifices for the sake of our neighbor. I fast now because I’ve found purpose.

Pray with the desire to draw into communion with God:

With prayer I get to experience the oneness with God.  That is where I can have that deep conversation with Him. Praying allows me to be radical, as the Greeks say radix, “to get to the root.” and to go deeper. A tremendous peace comes over me in that quietness, because its here that I also hear His voice. I can go deeper in my prayer, the interior place to have that conversation, sit in silence, to remove from the world and just listen.

Almsgiving is the physical act of love between God and the world:

Of the three, this one surprisingly is the hardest because I associate a task and need repetition which I don’t do well with variation. So for this year, I’m going to set a reminder in my phone to be intentional in giving. My consciousness of almsgiving will help me  give my time  (not keeping a busy schedule so I can give authentic time instead of squeezing in, give attention (putting my phone down and listening to my children actively), give help (helping my friends who are going through hard times,)  and give charity to those in more need than myself.

As I look forward to this lent, my mind has changed. This year is more than just a period of 40 days, its the beginning of the way which we can grow close to God all year long.

What makes it more special is that we offer prayer, fasting and almsgiving as a Church together. We can  fall in love with Jesus together.

Have you changed your mind about Lent?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *