Time goes so quickly as one gets older, and it is easy to just get bogged down in the overlapping tasks of our daily work. Sometimes, I feel like a submarine maneuvering through the dark murky abyss. I need to come up for air and light.
Everybody has a different response to Lent’s invitation, ranging anywhere between enthusiastic embrace, lukewarm acknowledgment, or outright dismissal. Known traditionally as a season of repentance and a time for fasting and self-denial, Cradle Catholics were raised with the concept of “giving something up” for Lent, a custom that started to lean more toward “doing something positive” in the post-Vatican II era.
I’m not here to pass judgment on anyone’s observance of Lent. But please allow me to share why the season is important to me.
First, I’m a Catholic. I like doing Catholic things. I love our liturgy and how the liturgical seasons call us to enter more deeply in the mysteries of Christ. The Catholic church is my family, and so I participate in family traditions. Gladly!
I would be the first to admit that I am not the ideal person I could be. God isn’t finished with me yet! Living alone as a writer and a composer, the temptation is strong to simply be isolated and bury myself in my work. I’m not an alcoholic, but I found out early as a young adult that I do have the drinker’s gene. Living alone and having that gene can be a volatile combination.
So it is good for me to give up alcohol for Lent as an affirmation that alcohol does not control me. When the urge to have a drink beckons, I drink water. And I pray.
Prayer is my “doing something positive” for Lent. It’s so easy to get out of practice when it comes to prayer. Lent calls me back. I look for more opportunities for prayer throughout each busy day. Prayer helps me get more centered, and in that center I deepen my relationship with God.
If I can give up alcohol and deepen my prayer life, that’s a lot! These are reachable and realistic Lenten goals. For inspiration, I look to Jesus’ forty days in the desert.
At that time, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted by the devil. He fasted for forty days and forty nights. . .
So Lent is my time to be led by the Holy Spirit and walk with Jesus in the desert. In that journey of self-denial, I hope to draw closer to God. For me, it’s as simple as that. And God is the simplest of all.
Blessed Lent to you!
Ash Wednesday: My Heart Belongs to God
Fasting has spiritual, physical benefits but also points to good works