I asked my 2nd grade CCD class last week to think about what they will “give up” for Lent which starts on March 1st this year. I explained to them that they need to make a sacrifice and to not give up something like homework!
Then I sat down to figure out what I was going to “give up”. I usually give up chocolate but since I am prediabetic, I shouldn’t be eating that anyway. That would be like allowing my kids to give up that homework that they are trying to avoid. I was no better than they were and I should be an example to them .
So, I am not going to give up something that I should already be doing. I am going to “give in” to what the season of Lent is all about. Repentance, penance, soul-searching, prayer, fasting and abstinence. These things would be a real sacrifice for me because I am not very good at any of them.
The last few years, I have bought a pocket calendar and each of the 40 days of Lent have dedicated my day and prayers to people that mean a lot to me like family and friends. Each Sunday, I pray for my priests and deacons who are an inspiration to me everyday. Tonight, as I stare at my calendar, I am trying to decide where to start.
I think this year, I will pray for things that are not easy for me. I will pray for people I don’t always get along with. I will pray for those who are less fortunate.I will fast for those who are hungry. I will abstain from frivolous things for the people who have nothing. I will do some soul-searching to see where I am lacking and dedicate days to pray for myself. I don’t see this as selfish but as necessary because I can’t be of service to others if my own house is not in order.
Lent starts with a display of ashes on the forehead and ends with the greatest sacrifice ever made. In between these 40 days, I need to take stock of my relationship with God and dedicate time -real time- each day to thank Him for the gift of His Son and to do my small part to show Him that I am truly grateful. God doesn’t need my Lenten sacrifice; He just needs me to do His will and to live by the greatest commandment- to love others as He has loved me. It is a tall order indeed and I fail many times at it because I am human. I can never love as God loves me and I don’t fully understand at times how He can do it so unconditionally.
All I can do, in my own human and flawed way, is try. I believe that when God sees a genuine effort being made, He is pleased. I will therefore give unto God what He deserves- my time, my devotion, my prayers and my service.
May this Lenten season be one of discovery, hope, peace and love for you all.