By Rebecca Hoesterey, Youth Ministry Coordinator
In college, I was a part of a faith sharing group. We were about to enter into Lent, so we spent time reflecting on God’s call for us during this season. Reflection quickly turned into the classic talk of “What do I give up?” and we were sucked into a conversation of comparison and whose fast would be holier than thou.
Lent is once again upon us, beginning this Wednesday.
Many of us may be jumping to the same question of “What do I give up?” and then fretting over if our sacrifice will level up to those of our peers. It is easy to fall into the trap of viewing Lent as a second shot at our New Year’s resolutions. We overburden ourselves with impressive sacrifices, and it feels like a marathon to the Easter season.
Come that glorious Sunday, we emerge from the drowning to gasp for air and rejoice, only to often sink right back into our sin. God does not intend for us to inflict suffering on ourselves, however—He has pure intentions behind our Lenten actions.
In the Ash Wednesday Gospel from Matthew 6, Jesus reminds us of the Lenten call to prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Instead of a display of public piety, it is a call to inner renewal of self.
The Church gives Lent to us as a time to look more deeply at our current location on the journey to Heaven. It is not just about the outward signs, like the boldness of our ash and fasting from meat, but also about the inner awareness, conversion, and repentance.
Lent involves our whole being—a bodily and spiritual union of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Our prayer is focused on an examination of the sin in our life that distances us from God. Towards what is our inner compass oriented? From there, we make a conscious choice to empty ourselves in fasting in order to give of ourselves to God in almsgiving.
We reap the spiritual benefits of Lent when this prayer, fasting, and almsgiving is done with the intention of growing in personal love for Christ. Key words: personal love.
Rather than thinking of an ultimate and unattainable sacrifice, I invite you to reflect on the purpose of Lent, turn around the question of fasting, and ask, “How is God calling me to better love Him?”
Do not get bogged down with how God is asking others to love Him because we are all on different walks of holiness. Just as each of our prayer looks different, so should our “Lents.”
A great way to love God during this Lent is to participate in a Simple Supper. (The dates of all our Simple Suppers are listed on page 4.)
Youth Ministry is hosting a dinner on Friday, March 6 from 6- 8pm. It will be an evening of fasting from a big meal, giving of your time to the parish, and uniting in prayer. If you are interested, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
May we see God’s will of love for us in Lent, and pray, fast, and give with joy.