But when I really look at my heart, I’ve begun to wonder if I feel more affirmed by the Lord’s love in my life or by the little endorphine-hit I get when someone retweets me. So this year I’m giving up social media for Lent. No Valencia-filtered selfies. No “Let it Go” covers. No check-ins at my favorite coffee shop. Instead, I’ve got five reasons why giving up social media for Lent is going to be great for my life.
So, I committed: 40 minutes of “devotional time” every single day. You can call it quiet time, prayer time, or just… time – whatever you need to call it so it doesn’t sound like a punishment. I didn’t really know what to call it. I just knew that I was going to do it.
Think about it: 40 minutes isn’t a huge block of time. It’s one drama or two sitcoms on Netflix. We can all find 40 minutes in a day. We just have to choose to do it.
However, I worry that if we don’t learn to use things for the good of the Kingdom of God, we might be missing the boat. It’s the same with using your humor to glorify God, or using your body to glorify God, or using your music to glorify God – we can use our phones the same way.
Here’s the thing about Lent: Your thing is your thing. What you give up and what you add on is between you and God, not you and your friends. If you want to bring them into it, asking them to walk with you or hold you accountable, all power to you. If you don’t want anyone but God to know, that’s okay, too.
If, however, you take every opportunity (consciously or unconsciously) to share just how much you’re giving up or how much you’re doing, it’s not holiness you’re seeking — it’s attention.
Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt.
So what exactly was Jesus talking about when He said, 'It is finished'?
Due to our fallen nature, we need God's help; we need His grace so that we can walk the road of repentance. Remember, God can only share with us that which He has.
Once Jesus has done all this, poured out His love so incredibly, we deny Him. We turn down His love in the most horrifying way . . . by putting Him to death.
He accepts it. He embraces it. He hangs on the cross and says, “I thirst.”
This summer I read about Blessed Mother Teresa. At the center of her spirituality were these two words of Jesus: “I thirst.” Her love and devotion to Christ can be summed up in that simple phrase. She understood what Christ meant when He spoke those words.
Sometimes light reveals things that we don't want to see. Lent has a way of doing that. It causes a little bit of pressure and stress, and shows us just how weak we can be sometimes. In my case, sitting in the sun revealed some things in me that I needed to work on. Had I gone and escaped into the shade, I may have missed out on the chance to improve myself.
Sometimes God seems far from us. Sometimes it seems as if He's forsaken us completely.
When I was sixteen, my dad died from lung cancer. Both during his illness and after his death, I felt very alone, both in a worldly sense – none of my friends had lost a parent’Ìâ‰âÂÌâ‰Ûùand in a spiritual sense. Part of me believed that God let my dad die, and that he'd left me alone to suffer and grieve.
You see, Mary is our Mother, whether we want her to be or not. God, our Father has made it so through His son's words. He knew our need for a motherly presence in the spiritual realm. So, with His dying breath, 'Jesus saw His mother and the disciple there whom He loved, He said to his mother, ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâèÏWoman, behold, your son.' Then He said to the disciple, ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâèÏBehold, your mother'' (John 19:26-27).
How crazy is that? Now that is mercy!
Big surprise, huh? I've spent many of my 22 years dreaming up the most perfect wedding. And since the creation of Pinterest, the harmless dreaming has become a borderline-addictive pinning-spree of dresses, cakes and the world's most adorable flower girl outfits. So, it's only natural, that I fell in love with the story of the Wedding at Cana when I started praying the rosary regularly last year.
Perhaps the toughest part of forgiveness is forgiving ourselves. This Lent, I've made specific efforts to forgive myself for past wrongdoings. I've reflected on what lead me to those sins or mistakes. I've confessed them and have felt Jesus take them off of my shoulders. The freedom that comes with Jesus' forgiveness is life-changing. But we have to let it change our lives. We have to accept that He forgives us. He doesn't hold a grudge, so who are we to hold one?
Jesus Christ is both justice and mercy. The Law of Moses required for the woman to be stoned; He didn't fail to invite others to stone her. He even opened up the opportunity for others to condemn the woman, but only if they met the qualification that He knew no one (besides His mother & Himself ) could meet: 'let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her' (John 8:7).
Among all the people that were present, Christ could've immediately condemned her by His own standards. But He did not condemn her; He showed her mercy.
Ìâ‰âÂÌâÅÒI don't even know how she got on this show if she can't harmonize,' I said as I leaned back in my chair and looked at the TV.
'Megan!' my roommate snapped. 'You're not supposed to be watching TV! Get back to work!'
'I'm not watching, I'm just . . . ' I trailed off, unable to come up with an excuse. I sat back up in my chair and started in on my schoolwork again.
In the Gospel of this radiant night of the Easter Vigil, we first meet the women who go the tomb of Jesus with spices to anoint his body (Luke 24:1-3). They go to perform an act of compassion, a traditional act of affection and love for a dear departed person, just as we would. They had followed Jesus, they had listened to his words, they had felt understood by him in their dignity and they had accompanied him to the very end, to Calvary and to the moment when he was taken down from the cross.
Instead of going into the chapel and pouring out my thoughts or trying really hard to hear Him, I'm just sitting in the silence. His calm, gentle, strong voice always comes to me if I submit to the sacred silence in the chapel.
If I can't make it to the chapel, I can sit in silence with God in my room. My reflection this week on my silent time has flowed nicely with my reflections on not speeding.
What I've learned this week is this: I don't always have to set the pace. Whether it be in the car, in the hallway, or in the chapel – I can take my time. I can slow down. I can breathe. I can listen to His heartbeat, and strive to live my life to the rhythm of that heart beat. Let God set the rhythm, and experience the freedom that it offers.
Picture it: You’re in a hurry. You’re focused on school or work or family or friends, where there are a thousand things going on. You stop real quick to eat in the middle of the day. Halfway through the meal – or a little while after – you remember it’s Friday. And it’s Lent! And that’s a burger in your stomach!! In the words of Homer Simpson, “D’oh!”
When I was a kid, Lent didn't mean a whole lot. Lent meant getting a filet-o-fish instead of a cheeseburger in my usual Friday Happy Meal. It meant that the music at Mass got more ‘Ìâ‰âÂÌâèÏserious,' and we didn't say the 'A' word: you know, (Allelu—). It meant that soon Easter was coming and do you know what that meant? That's right . . . an Easter egg hunt against my brothers!