“I’m giving up all tv, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter…Nothing edible will enter my body for forty days. And I’m going to read all 150 Psalms daily while wearing a hair shirt that would bring Bigfoot to tears.”
Sound familiar? We’re all big talkers at the beginning of Lent, aren’t we? We’re going to get really holy, get really in touch with our Lord’s sacrifice on the Cross. We’re strong enough! Who needs food! (It’s a scientific fact that most rash Lenten resolutions are made on a full stomach.)
So how’s it going? Uh-huh…thought so.
If you’ve struggled to keep up with your lenten resolutions just take a deep breath and relax. It’s hard to sacrifice. It’s meant to be hard. And for those of us who bit off more than we could chew, it can be discouraging because we weren’t able to perfectly keep our promises. We failed!
But let’s keep a couple things in mind.
First of all, be realistic. If you’re trying to do too much, take a step back and get real. I’m not trying to get anyone off the hook, because the whole point is to be sacrificial and it’s never easy. But at the same time, it would do us good to recall the famous line from Clint Eastwood’s Dirty Harry character in Magnum Force: “Man’s got to know his limitations…”
Second, the Lord is merciful. He’s not mad at you for failing. He might be chuckling at your inability to put down the Oreo and walk away, but he’s not mad. He’s the most merciful person in the world!
Remember, Lenten sacrifice isn’t for him. It’s for us. It’s meant to help us take our eyes off of this world and focus on the next. It’s meant to help us love Christ more, not get down on ourselves.
So if you’ve fallen a few times already, stand up and brush the Little Debbie crumbs off your pants. Then pick up your Lenten cross and start again…but maybe with one made from a little lighter wood.
So Lent continues…Isn’t it funny that we shudder at the thought of suffering in general terms, but many of us are more than willing to endure it for specific reasons like rippling abs, bulging biceps, and toned legs?
Having spent a fair bit of time of my youth in weight rooms, I often heard my fellow gym rats screaming at each other what can only be described as motivation to suffer: “Feel the burn!” “Make it hurt, man!” “If you’re not sore, you’re not growing!”
These “encouragements” (often accompanied by large amounts of spittle), were generally welcomed by the person exercising. They knew it was true. They knew they had to embrace the suffering so as to grow. (“Get big or get out!”)
It’s the same in the spiritual life.
Just as we give up certain foods and force ourselves to exercise for our physical well-being, we need to wean ourselves from worldly fat and work out our spiritual muscles for our eternal well-being. That’s what Lent does. It makes us lean, mean spiritual machines more focused on God.
Keep up the workout and God bless!
P.S. If you haven’t yet done so, sign up in the top right of the page to receive one of my talks for free. I’m going to be changing it out soon, so do it while you still can!
Ahhh. Lent is upon us. That glorious time of giving up chocolate, beer, and other necessities of life.
Ash Wednesday marks the start of the longest 40 days of the Catholic calendar – the cold shower that follows the festivities of Fat Tuesday.
A difficult jolt to our mostly comfortable lives, Lent is actually one of the most incredible opportunities we have as human beings.
Did you know St. Francis de Sales says our ability to do penance actually causes the envy of the angels. Not in a sinful way. But, we’re able to suffer for our Lord. We can make a simple act of the will – offer up a difficulty or do voluntary penance to the Lord – and they can’t.
Suffering in union with our Lord is one of the most powerful things we can do. Why? Because it makes us like him. We’re doing what he did. “Suffering borne well,” says de Sales, “will carry you closer to heaven than if you were the healthiest person in the world.”
It might be hard, but try to stop viewing Lent as something to endure, and start looking at it as an opportunity for holiness…Then start searching the lenten calendar for the feast days:).