As we all know, Lent is a preparation time of 40 days and nights before Easter. This practice comes from in the Bible, where Jesus Himself fasted for 40 days and 40 nights in preparation for His ministry. During this time, He ate nothing and was tempted by Satan. Then, He returned in great power. Everywhere Jesus went, He healed the blind, deaf, and diseased; He forgave sins, cast out demons, and rose people from the dead.
In the Catholic Church, Lent is a sort of desert experience where we look at our lives and reflect on our relationship with God. It is a time:
- To begin a relationship with Jesus if you don’t have one
- Or, to get your spiritual life back on track if you need to
- Or, if you have been faithful, to grow deeper in your spiritual life and your walk with God.
How are we doing with that?
If you were truly going to die tonight, would you be ready? What changes would you make to your life before now and Judgment Day? What would you start and stop doing? Would you pray more? Go to confession? Make amends with someone? Stop this or that sin that you know is wrong?
Lent is a time to take a hard look at our habits, our sins, and our imperfections, to see what we are doing well and what we need to work on and purify. It’s also a time to grow in love and charity. Our whole goal should be to help prepare ourselves for heaven and to come closer to God by the end of Lent. That is why that Church calls us to pray more, to fast, to give alms, and to work on some aspect of our life.
What to Give Up for Lent
There are some who think Lent is no different than a New Year’s resolution and just focus on losing weight or having better gym discipline. But, most people give up the usual candy, soda, junk food, coffee, Facebook, etc.
Whatever we give up should be a sacrifice. However, it should also be done out of love for God. Consider the following: Since we are called to become holier, giving up soda or candy, for example, is OK, but God would rather us give up gossip than soda or our temper rather than candy. He would rather us work hard on giving up lust, or some addiction, rather than coffee, or to have a daily prayer life (if we don’t already) rather than giving up a TV show.
Ideally, we should do both! So, choose one thing to give up. And, choose one sin or imperfection of your choice to work on. You may choose to work on being more patient, or less irritable, or to stop gossiping, or to forgive someone, etc. You may choose to pray more every day. You could also pray a daily Rosary, take time for reading the Bible, take daily quiet time with God, etc. Whatever is going to help bring you closer to God, make more room in your heart for Him, and prepare your soul for heaven!
While it should be a sacrifice, strive to make it attainable! If you are like me, you get frustrated when you fail in your promise. Keep trying and never give up! I constantly remind myself that I have 40 days to work on my Lenten promise and become better. I don’t have to become perfect overnight. In the end, it’s all about love for God.
Remember, Jesus was severely beaten; He had His skin ripped off, thorns through His skull, and 6-8 inch railroad spikes through His wrists. Then, He hung on the cross bleeding out of every pore for three hours to pay the price for all of our sins. Jesus gave us everything He had out of love for us and held absolutely nothing back. What can we do for Him in return this Lent?
Remember, the cross is not the end. Jesus rose in power and now reigns forever in great glory. Lent is a time to remember Jesus’ sacrifice and death and to share in that sacrifice in some small way out of love for Him. Then, Easter arrives and reminds us of the good news that Jesus conquered all suffering and death forever, and that we, His sons and daughters, are called to share in His resurrection and have everlasting life!