For 40 days each year devout Catholics “sacrifice” or “give up” something for Lent. The typical sacrifices may include junk foods, chocolate, sodas, or your favorite food. But is that really the best thing to give up during Lent? Is it increasing your spiritual life as much as you hoped it would? I would dare say giving up chocolate or junk food does not improve your spiritual walk with Christ.
The sacrifices we give up in Lent are a form of penance. It is more than just saying we are going to give up chocolate for 40 days and then go right back to eating it on day 41. For the main penitential season on the Church calendar, the choice of what we sacrifice and give up should be more important than what most make it. Although the Church does not officially require us to give up something for Lent (only requiring fasting and abstinence), it is an essential practice to our lives if we choose to draw closer to Christ. As a result, the choice to give up something for Lent is a sacrifice itself and a choice we make for the Lord.
The best thing we can sacrifice or give up during Lent is something that will draw us closer to Jesus, help us live more like the saints we are called to be, and increase our spiritual life. It’s not only a benefit for our life here, but also serves as a benefit for eternity. It’s much more pleasing to the Lord for us to give this up rather than chocolate, candy, or soda.
So, if you are desiring to go deeper this Lent then careful consideration should be taken as to what you want to give up and making the choice to do so. The best way to make the most of this year’s Lent, go deeper than ever, and draw closer to God, is to give up the one thing that would most please God: Sin.
We all struggle with the bondage of sin and what I struggle with may be totally different than what you struggle with in your life. The sins may be different but the pleasing aroma to Christ of a Christian seeking to draw closer to Him through the shedding of sin is an aroma that fills heaven. Before entering this crucial penitential season, take some time today and make a careful examination of the greatest sin you struggle with and make that the thing you choose to give up during Lent.
“God does not judge Christians because they sinned, but because they do not repent.”- St. Niphon of Constantia
“Pay attention carefully. After the sin comes the shame; courage follows repentance. Did you pay attention to what I said? Satan upsets the order; he gives the courage to sin and the shame to repentance” – St. John Chrysostom
“The saints understood how great an outrage sin is against God. Some of them passed their lives in weeping for their sins. St. Peter wept all his life, he was still weeping at his death. St. Bernard used to say, ‘Lord! Lord! It is I who fastened you to the Cross!” -St. John Vianney.
If you want to have a Lent that lasts far past Day 41, then make it a Lent of true repentance and shedding of sin. Make your greatest sin your greatest sacrifice.