With the Lenten season once again upon us, now is a good time to reflect on the meaning of Lent and why we make sacrifices during this time.
The Lenten season is a time of renewing our baptismal promises. It is a season of prayer, fasting and almsgiving.
Prayer draws us closer to our Lord and strengthens our relationship with him. Prayer is important in our everyday life, but during Lent is a good time to re-evaluate our daily prayer life.
By fasting we not only share in the suffering of our Lord, Jesus Christ, but we are reminded of our hunger for God. We open ourselves to walk more closely with him in our daily lives. Through this hunger and sacrifice, we are reminded of our baptismal commitments.
Isaiah tells us that fasting without changing our behavior is not pleasing to God:
"This, rather, is the fasting that I wish: releasing those bound unjustly, untying the thongs of the yoke; setting free the oppressed, breaking every yoke; sharing your bread with the hungry, sheltering the oppressed and the homeless; clothing the naked when you see them, and not turning your back on your own" (Is 58:6-7).
Fasting is also a way for us to be unified with those in need - those who fast due to poverty, those who suffer from economic and political injustices, those who are in need for any reason whatsoever. Through Baptism we take on the responsibility of bringing Christís love into our everyday world. Fasting is a way to help us relate to the suffering of others, and hopefully give us the motivation and renewed faith to make a difference using our God given talents.
Almsgiving is also a way to renew our baptismal promises. By giving to those in need (be it money, food, clothing, our time, or any other way), we show our care for them as well as our gratitude for all the blessings God brings to our daily lives. Almsgiving is a way to give back. A way to share our blessings with others.
What are you given up for Lent?
Iím sure you all have been asked this question. And yes, another sacrifice of Lent is often to give something up during the Lenten season. We donít merely give up something to be giving it up though. Again, this is a way to share in the sacrifice Jesus made for us and to open our hearts to renewing our baptismal promises.
The better question is:
What are you doing for Lent?
You donít necessarily need to give up something. Most often we think of giving up food - sweets, candy, soda and the like. That, of course, is a viable option. But, you can choose to do something else, or give up your time - perhaps cut back on watching television or limit your online time. Instead do something like attend daily Mass, if your schedule allows, or volunteer with a ministry of your choice. When deciding what to do for Lent, the sky really is the limit. Do something, or give something up, that will unify you with our Lord, Jesus Christ, and renew your baptism commitments. Something that will make a difference in your life, as well as those around you.
Peace in Christ,
© Melissa Knoblett-Aman