Examples witnessed growing up did not always set the proper attitude for approaching Lent. Often Lent meant meatless meals so like many kids I “suffered” through homemade macaroni and cheese. Being from New England I “suffered” through those meals of haddock, salmon and shrimp. If this was Lenten suffering, let Lent be a yearlong experience.
For others I knew growing up, Lent was the time of giving up. There was the gum stage, the comic book stage, and as one got older there were the abstentions from certain foods, alcohol, and smoking. From the outside looking in it would seem Lent was sponsored by Weight Watchers and Alcoholics Anonymous.
Well, life has a way of solving problems. I no longer smoke and because of health issues I am on a medically supervised diet which limits caloric intake and prohibits alcohol. From the giving up perspective, I have achieved my life long Lent.
Of course, there is the other approach which is to add something to your life. Perhaps it could be daily Mass, attending a retreat, reading a book. Pope Francis encourages us to embrace some or not all of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy.
Of course, the goal of either doing less or doing more is to move us closer in our relationship with God through these 40 days. It is our annual time to prepare and renew ourselves to celebrate the great gift of Easter. It is that unique time where we remember who we were without the Risen Lord, how the events of Holy Week give meaning to our lives, and how we can reflect our new lives in our day to day activities.
So that should be our litmus test – does our Lenten deprivation or additional activities bring us closer to God? If we can’t answer that question, then maybe this year’s Lent is the time to discover what I need to do in order grow in my relationship with God.
So, what am I doing for Lent? There is an attraction to lighten my use of technology. Of course, when your job is online teaching there can’t be a total ban on using technology. But I have decided to stop participating in some online forums, refrain from using Facebook and other time wasting forms of social media, and even take a break from this blog until after Easter.
I will also be using a reflection book as a daily prayer guide. It is written by Boston College theologian Tim Muldoon, “The Ignatian Workout for Lent”.
Whatever you choose to decrease or increase this Lent, may the Spirit guide you these 40 days. See you on the other side of the tomb!