It is easy to be swept up in the tidal wave of today’s fast-paced, consumer-centric society. For many of us, if we are hungry, food is easily available. If we wish to be entertained, we can instantly find a plethora of options to occupy our minds. Subconsciously, our attention gravitates to our superficial needs and ways to meet them.
The season of Lent serves as an annual reminder to reorient our priorities and return our focus to God. This weekend, Christians around the world who are celebrating Lent are nearing the halfway mark of their journeys.
The Lenten season recalls Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the desert in preparation for his ministry and his resistance to the temptations he faced in Matthew Chapter 4. The season provides a time for purification and recommitment as Christians prepare to celebrate the resurrection on Easter Sunday.
The 40-day period of penitential sacrifice also serves a poignant reminder of Good Friday, when Jesus made the greatest possible sacrifice in giving his life so we may live eternally. Although our Lenten deeds are much smaller, they allow us to participate with him in the act of sacrificing.
At its heart, Lent is a time of self denial. Christians pray, fast and give alms as they refocus on the deeper need to connect with God. Many choose to give up something – big or small – for the duration of the season. In forgoing some temporary pleasure, we take time to listen to the deeper call inside of us.
You can never get enough of what you don’t need. Craving what you don’t need will leave you unsatisfied.
It is by denying selfish indulgences that you are able to renew your spirit and draw closer to God.
As the late Catholic bishop Fulton Sheen once said, “Lenten practices of giving up pleasures are good reminders that the purpose of life is not pleasure.”
The 40-day journey can be compared to starting a new workout. At the beginning, it is very difficult as you form new habits and break down parts of your body that are not optimized.
Over time, you find new clarity, and it becomes easier to focus on what makes you healthy.
As your personal Lenten journey reaches its halfway point, stay strong. The Easter celebration will be here soon.
May you greet it with a renewed strength, spirituality, focus and passion.