As we progress further into the New Year, we get closer and closer to the season of Lent and the climax of Jesus’s time on Earth. What is this time of holy sacrifice and why is it so important?
Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent is the recollection of events occurring up to and including Jesus’s crucifixion. During this time the forty days and nights after Ash Wednesday are dedicated to the preparation and fasting prior to the celebrations of Easter holiday. These forty days are meant to replicate the sacrifice made by Jesus Christ. This season of Lent is celebrated by billions all across the globe year after year. During this time there are countless amounts of acts offered up by Christians in union with Jesus’s sacrifice, however; it’s a trying time for anyone that decides to participate.
I took some time to ask those around me that celebrated Lent what some of their own sacrifices had been in years past. I received quite the ongoing list of sacrifices. These sacrifices range from giving up soda, not working out, or not listening to secular music to abstaining from gossip, abstaining from pornography, or deleting social media. As challenging as these offerings are, there are also sacrifices that called for the addition of habits in a person’s life. Some of these additions are dedicated to the development of one’s prayer life, weekly Confession, daily rosary, and putting aside an hour a day for God.
In our day and age, much focus is put on an individual’s social media presence. Because of this need to impress those behind a computer screen, year after year Lent is made into a trend everyone can participate in and post. Whether it’s giving something up or taking something on, the true meaning of Lent can be lost in the celebration of Lent itself.
It says in Matthew 6: 16-18, “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” When Jesus speaks so boldly, He’s speaking to each of us as we prepare for this season; He’s reminding us that Lent is not an outward display to show just how holy one is to their peers. Instead, it is a sacrifice offered from one to God.
So, with Lent here, in full effect, remember not to just mindlessly give up something like soda this fasting season. Instead, take the time to internalize the sacrifice you’ve made and try to reflect on the sufferings of Jesus during this time. While practicing your sacrifice day today, the internalization of your sacrifice could be made in many forms. Some examples incldue journaling, seeking religious mentorship, attending adoration or Confession, or most importantly reading Scripture and praying daily.
By documenting the progress of your day to day commitment, journaling could be an opportunity to expel any doubts or worries onto paper. Advice and information on Lent and your sacrifice can be found in receiving mentorship from religious leaders; such as priests, brothers, nuns, or even youth ministers. Attending Confession, adoration, or daily Mass during this time would also be a benefit. Making sure to take out time for scripture and prayer can be a time of revelation and comfort in the presence of God. All in all, be sure to root yourself in faith and trust that God will provide you with as much strength and determination required to persevere in your sacrifice.