Giving Up on Lent
I swear it’s the first question I hear every year, usually complete with raised eyebrows. If I’m lucky, I might get the head nod.
Soooooo, what are you giving up for Lent?
It seems like everyone’s default is Dr Pepper! Chocolate! Sweets! Beer! Facebook!
Don’t get me wrong. Those are all good things to fast from these 40 days. I mean, I might question your sanity on giving up the 23 flavors, but I get it. I’ve been there. I get that perhaps giving up one of those things may lead you to a healthier lifestyle, a slimmer waistline, a better budget, a more balanced view of reality.
But Lent really isn’t about better health, better cash flow, better food or better self-esteem.
It’s about a better soul.
Those things might be the building blocks in helping you achieve a better soul. But, when we get right down to it, Lent is meant to break us down to build us back up. God is asking us to strip away the usual frivolities and focus on Him instead. The giving up, the praying and the doing more are just the first part. To be honest, anybody can do those.
If you’re like me, Lent has been about the doing. What are you DOING this Lent? What are you GIVING UP this Lent? But, what if we started asking the question: How are you going to be TRANSFORMED this Lent? Would that change the conversation? Would that change our approach?
Maybe if instead of me just writing 40 notes in 40 days, getting rid of 40 bags of stuff, praying 40 Divine Mercy Chaplets, spending 40 hours at Adoration or giving up 40 days of sweets and caffeine, I’ll be reminded to love. To live. To forgive. To pray. To be content.
To be satisfied that He is enough.
Catholics don’t have the market on this Lenten thing. We might get the most press – thanks, Vatican! – but Lent is for everyone who desires a relationship with God. You don’t have to be some super, über-Catholic to get box seats for Lent. You just have to open and willing to be transformed.
Recently, our parish priest delivered one hell of a homily. He was relating Lent, and its timing, to this Jubilee Year of Mercy, declared by Pope Francis. He was challenging us to look to Lent as 40 days of mercy, 40 days of forgiveness. Rather than just “do the usual,” he asked us, “How is God calling you to be a better disciple? How is He asking you to look at those you love, and those you hate, with a more tender heart?”
I know. Those are a lot of questions that I don’t have the answers to either.
But I tell you what. This Lent, let’s try to answer them. Let’s try to be ever-purposeful with our prayers, fasting and alms giving. Let’s take those sacrifices and try to see how God wants to transform us. And, then, let’s be transformed.
God doesn’t need another list-maker, he needs another disciple.
Here’s to giving up on Lent and being transformed by God.
Thank you for this post! Hope you and your family have a blessed Lenten season. Loved your reflection on Blessed is She the other day.
Thank you, times two!
Wow!!! Great read. Our parish priest recommended to us to save the earth as the pope has asked us. So, I am going to try some of his suggestions. I told my husband that is one of the things I would like to do this lent. I am terrible about recycling and even thinking twice about all the waste I create. My husband suggested also that I should focus on saving souls and getting the deceased to heaven by praying more, going to confession, having masses said for my lent. I thought that was a great idea. So, now I have a couple of items to do during lent. I usually do not give up items, I try to do more.
It sounds like you have a fruitful Lent ahead.
[…] Kathryn’s reflection this morning is much of what’s in my own mind. Lent isn’t about the checklist and seeing just how penitent we can force ourselves to be. It’s about reminding ourselves of our need for God and changing our lives to reflect that. As the first reading tells us today: […]
Love this, Kathryn! And totally on the same page as you with my post today– feeling the solidarity over so many miles!
[…] for Lent? Not failing, hopefully. I don’t have six kids like Kathryn, but I will also be easing my way through Lent. As I’ve mentioned recently, my day-to-day spiritual life is actually pretty good right now, […]