Lent is a funny little ‘season’ in modern society. Each year people around the globe begin to talk about what they’ll give up for those 40-some days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. Conversations about what is meant to be a spiritual quest for believers sound more like mini New Year’s resolutions. People who rarely – if ever – step foot into a church begin to talk about their weight loss goals or about giving up booze, caffeine, cigars, video games, or social networking sites. Seldom do I hear people talk about the true essence of the penitential season meant for the preparation for Easter.
Now, this isn’t to say that people shouldn’t be allowed to abstain from whatever vice they chose. It’s not even to say that only Christians are allowed to participate in the Lenten season. It is merely an observation from someone who (mostly) tries to follow through with the thought that Lent is a time to strengthen your relationship with God, with your own being, and with your neighbours. In more basic terms, Lent is about baptism – the preparation for baptism and for renewing baptismal commitments.
The three traditional pillars of Lenten observance are prayer, fasting, and alms-giving. Often people think of Lent as a time of needing to make a sacrifice (hence abstaining from favoured vices) though it can also be a time of taking on a faith-based task – a burden, if you will.
Over the past several weeks I’ve thought long and hard about what I could do to prepare for Easter. What spiritual task could I take on? What burden could I accept as a way of bringing myself closer to my God? I’ve gone back and forth on this issue countless times and what I’ve realised is that since losing Paul not even a full year ago, my soul and my heart already feel so burdened and I just can’t imagine taking on anything more.
But my faith and my desire to find some spiritual guidance won’t allow me to use Paul as an excuse to absolve myself from my religious obligations. I’ve also noticed that while I’ve not lost my faith in the past 10 months, I have lost my passion for my faith. And so, I’ve decided that I will bring passion back to my life for the Lenten season. I will pick up my battered copy of the bible once again and try to find a bit of solace in it each day. As I struggle through the daily process of grieving for Paul, I will turn once again to my faith to help me through. And I hope that by Easter Sunday I will have found a little more peace in my world; a little more acceptance for my loss; and a greater connection with my God.
While I go through this journey, you may find me posting a little more about my faith. (Have I mentioned yet that I’m Catholic?) I hope that you’ll respect my right to freedom of religion, as I respect yours; and while I realise that for many of my non-Christian friends it may be a bit uncomfortable to read about my faith journey, I hope that you’ll stick with me, because while my faith helps to defines me, it won’t be the main player in this blog.
And for those who are looking at last-minute Lenten obligations, here is a little something to ponder:
A Lenten Reflection
Give up complaining – focus on gratitude.
Give up pessimism – become an optimist.
Give up harsh judgements – think kindly thoughts.
Give up worry – trust Divine Providence.
Give up discouragement – be full of hope.
Give up bitterness – turn to forgiveness.
Give up hatred – return good for evil.
Give up negativism – be positive.
Give up anger – be more patient.
Give up pettiness – become mature.
Give up gloom – enjoy the beauty that is all around you.
Give up jealousy – pray for trust.
Give up gossiping – control your tongue.
Give up sin – turn to virtue.
Give up giving up – hang in there!
~ Unknown author