Lent can sometimes feel a bit like a marathon. We’ve reached the halfway point and the end is in sight! The Easter celebration acts as the finish line for our Lenten sacrifices – the time when we can finally indulge in Easter candy and revert back to all our pre-Lent habits. I’d like to challenge us to view our Lenten sacrifices in a different light; not as a temporary denial, but as a chance to build a foundation for the people we want to become.
Lent gets a bad rap as far as Catholic traditions go. Christmas and Easter are, of course, the joyous celebrations complete with decadent meals, candy, and presents. Advent, too, is a season of joy with beautiful decorations and Christmas songs at Mass. Lent is the season of somber reflection and sacrifice in preparation for our solemn commemoration of the Death and Resurrection of our Lord. Especially as a kid, it was pretty hard to get excited about Lent. I have to give up my favorite treat or TV show? Why? What’s the point?
I think these are fair questions. Without the right mindset, abstaining from chocolate for 40 days is just a test of our personal willpower, not necessarily a useful spiritual exercise. Now that we’re in the middle of Lent, I want to invite you to think about what you chose to give up this year, regardless of how successful you’ve been with it. Now I’d like you to think about why you chose that.
Did you give up chocolate during Lent in order to experience what it’s like to go without something? This can be a very powerful exercise in remembering to appreciate all the gifts that we, too often, take for granted. But if the goal is to be more grateful for what we have and remember those in need more often, shouldn’t we try to extend that mindfulness beyond Easter? Why not give up chocolate for 40 days and commit to volunteering once a month for the rest of the year?
Why did you decide to cut out your daily or weekly latte at your favorite coffee shop? Was it because you’d like to spend less on unnecessary items? What if you were to take those same five dollars a week, save them up for a year, and donate them to your parish endowment? That would be a $260 gift that would benefit your parish forever!
My point is this – let’s use Lent as an opportunity to build a foundation for new, positive habits. Lent may be halfway over, but it’s never too late to start working on good habits. We don’t have to wait for New Year’s Day or Ash Wednesday to start forming habits that bring us closer to God. Let’s think about who we want to be – as Catholics, as family members, as global citizens – and take small, intentional steps in the right direction. The hardest part of the journey is usually the first step. Make a commitment today to take that first step, and I bet you’ll be surprised at how far you’ll go.
For more information regarding the Catholic Community Foundation of Santa Clara County, please visit, cfoscc.org.