Lent is here, and so far it’s been a season of changes big and small for me. If you know me or if you’ve ever read anything I’ve ever written, there are likely hints here and there that I am Catholic. Very Catholic. And Lent is a huge opportunity for all kinds of growth for me – more so than the typical New Year’s resolution because I will be more consistent and persistent in doing something for someone I love rather than for myself. And God is someone I love.
Most people associate Lent with a time to “give something up.” In years past, I have given up fried foods, chocolate, and the internet. While these were excellent exercises in self-discipline, when the 40 days were up, I took back every bad habit with gusto. So where did it get me? I don’t honestly know and that’s the problem.
What is often overlooked during Lent is the opportunity to grow closer to God by taking on some new good habits. There’s nothing wrong with throwing out the old ones, but if no real change is accomplished, I can’t really see the point. What our faith is trying to teach us is self-discipline as a way toward Discipleship and service to others.
With that in mind, this year, I am still eating sweets, drinking coffee and surfing the web. However, what I’ve decided to is to fast and pray as my church has asked me; not just for purposes of my own spiritual growth, but especially for the trials suffered in the world such as school shootings, starvation, and natural disasters. Fasting is not something I normally do (because I really love food and I’m generally self-concerned). But over the past few years, something changed in me. I’ve been sincerely touched by the people in my life who have witnessed to me by word and action; who are constantly giving to others, thinking of others, praying for others. It is clear God has surrounded me with such people to teach me to grow closer to Him.
I’ve also decided to meditate on the book of Sirach. Sirach is like the book of Proverbs on steroids. Reading this spiritual guidance has been like getting smacked in the face with the dodgeball every night. I’m seeing stars — and loving it! It’s just what I needed and God brought me to it very deliberately.
Although Fat Tuesday is long past, it’s never too late to begin a good habit. If you haven’t decided what you are going to (or if you are going to) give up for Lent, I invite you to give up the futile practices that don’t make you a stronger and better witness to your own beliefs. Take up a meaningful new way of life whether it be something as big as organizing a fundraiser for a charity or as small as passing up a meal and being mindful of those who go without because they have no choice.
If these were academy awards I would now be boring you with a list of thank you’s to people you don’t know. But it’s my blog and I’m going to thrill you with a list of thank you’s to some people you may just know (and there’s no orchestra to cut me off!)
Thank you: SISTER LAURA, BROTHER(FATHER) WILL, BROTHER GRAHAM, SISTER ELIZABETH, MOTHER CAROL, UNCLE (DEACON) STEVE, EILEEN, MAMA SHIRLEY, CHARI, SUZETTE, TERESA, ROSEMARY, VALERIE (AND MY MANY OTHER CRHP SISTERS), LOREE, ANNE, CHERYL, KRISSY (AKA POSH SPICE) AND MICHAEL (AKA BECKS), FATHER RICHARD BELLOW, FATHER BILL PHARR (RIP), MARJORIE, ANN K., LINDA B., BILL L., “MY JENNAY”, and of course my very patient and forbearing spouse, FRANK!
I know I’ve left a ton of people off my list and I beg your forgiveness…your 5 minutes of blog fame is sure to make its way to the light of day. Many blessings and a fruitful and productive lent to you all.