So many people think of Lent as a special time of year to avoid meat on a few Fridays and punch another hole on their sacrifice ticket. They’re missing the point. Lent is about deepening our faith and rekindling our devotion to the One True God of all Creation. If giving up something you love for a few weeks isn’t doing it for you, maybe you’re ready to go deeper.
Some give up swearing for Lent. I’ve spent Lenten seasons curbing my mouth, but as Bishop Hennessey had said, “You don’t wake up Easter morning and start swearing like a sailor.” One thing I’ve done is to say a Hail Mary every time I wanted to say, well, something else. I spent one Lenten season saying loads of Hail Marys! We can’t just use the time to build good habits, but we should make it a sacrifice.
I’ve done the giving up sweets thing plenty of times, but this time I’m stopping all carbs after dinner. It’s not just a sacrifice but a good health choice because our bodies are temples and we need to take care of them. As good a habit as it is, I know I’ll go back to snacks (hopefully with better control) so it’s not just a good habit I’m building but a sacrifice. It’s a step up for me in a small way, but not the only thing I’m doing.
Yes, I’ve given up chocolate and it was such a sacrifice, and I certainly ate more than my fair share on Easter Sunday, but I’m not sure what I gained that year spiritually and faithfully. Truly, the best way to enhance one’s spiritual journey during Lent, is to find where you are now and challenge yourself to go deeper. You have to ask yourself, is this sacrifice just a good habit or am I growing closer to God through it?
I say a daily rosary and this year I’ve challenged myself to say it in Latin. I’ve been learning Latin via the Duolingo app and it’s helped a great deal, but I’m sure I’m missing some pronunciations. I’ve watched a few videos and listened to audio clips and that’s helping. By Easter, I hope it comes naturally. What I’m gaining aside from the powerful prayer routine is a deeper understanding of the words.
Good habits can be built from an obligation to do something you commit to for Lent, but Lent isn’t about building good habits alone. Lent is about going deeper in your faith and devotion. Are you spending your days thinking of God, thinking of what He’s done for you and what you’re doing for Him? Are you acting Christlike? Do you pray as often as you ought? Stop. Say a quick prayer for someone you love right now. Father, please bless and protect ____. It’s that easy.
Think about where you are now and where you could go to deepen your own faith. Lent is not just a period of time to give up something you love; Lent is a journey through the desert and Christ is with us the whole way.