For those of you who do not know, Lent is the season of the Liturgical year that precedes the Triduum. The Triduum is Black Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.
Lent commemorates the 40 days and nights that Jesus spent in the desert after he was baptized by the Holy Spirit. For 40 days and 40 nights, Jesus did not eat or sleep in order to prepare His mind and body for His ministry. At the end of the ordeal, He was tempted by the Devil but resisted the temptations. Then, He began his three years of ministry.
We as Christians use Lent as a time of penance, self-denial, and contemplation as a time to prepare for Easter. Catholics give up meat (except fish) on Fridays and Ash Wednesday, and many denominations have a practice of giving up some vice for the forty-four day season. In addition or instead of giving something up, many people opt to do something they don’t normally do that they think will strengthen their relationship with God.
Lent is a fantastic opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. First, you get a defendable reason to try and make yourself better. Many people question you if you say you’re going on a diet, but if you say you’re giving up sweets for Lent, that seems to be ok. Some people try to exercise more, others try to pray more, some try to go to Daily Mass, and other try to be nice. Whatever it is, Lent seems to be an umbrella that allows you to try any self-help experiment without catching any flack for it.
You see, that’s where the second bird is killed. All these things that make you a better person typically also give glory to God. Especially acts you do or give up that are specifically spiritual, like praying daily or reading the Bible. However, even physical asceticism gives glory to God. Even if you are giving up chocolates or red meat to get your beach bod, people also notice that you’ve chosen to stop eating red meat at this odd time. They may ask “Why?” You then say “because of Lent.” They then say “What is Lent?” Boom. Faith ice-breaker.
Also, many things that people give up or reduce also allow them to grow closer to God. Perhaps someone gives up TV after eight in the evening. Most likely they won’t pray all night, but there is a good chance that they would go enjoy the sunset on their backporch and relax. They may feel more peaceful after watching the sunset, treat their family nicer, and then–indirectly at least–God has blessed a family with peace through Lent.
So, I encourage everyone to try and give up one thing or do one thing for Lent. One spiritual thing would be great, and physical things are good outwardly as well. Don’t limit yourself, do as many as you want!
I will be doing three of my most tried and true game-changers that really better my life and help me think about Easter. I will be: giving up soda, reading the New Testament in 40 days, and giving up sweets. The new one I”m doing this year that might be hard is praying the Rosary every day.
I encourage everyone to pick something! And, go to church on Ash Wednesday!
P.S. contact me if you want a 40 day read-the-New-Testament plan