It is that time of year again.. Lent. As a Catholic, I have spent my Wednesday waiting for my one (meatless) meal of the day, proudly walking around with my ashes on my forehead, and attempting to get into the swing of my various Lenten sacrifices. I would love to fully explain Lent and Ash Wednesday and all this awesome Catholic mumbo jumbo in future posts, but this post is going to simply be focused on what I am “giving up” for Lent.
“Giving up” might be the normal thing to see when describing Lenten practices, but in reality, Lent isn’t only about giving stuff up, but also doing more stuff in the process. Why do we even do these things in Lent? Well, Lent is basically a season of conversion and recognizing the ways we have turned away from God. Lent is about fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. In a way, even the silliest things we give up are a form of fasting. No matter what it is you give up, or do in additional to your regular routine, you are turning away from things that are distracting and refocusing yourself on God. It can be confusing to think about at first, but let’s just say Lent is a great, meaningful season leading up to Easter.
This year, I decided to give up 1.) my pillows and 2.) Eating after 7 in the evening. Why, you may ask? First of all, I like to have one Lenten sacrifice that is kind out of the box and fun, yet meaningful. That is where the pillow idea came from. Sleeping without my pillows is definitely going to be a sacrifice. Maybe the first five minutes in bed tonight, it will even be kind of fun. But I can tell you, in a week or two, it won’t be so fun anymore. It will probably be miserable, but in a good way. Not only does is readjust my thinking away from comfort, it puts my mind in a better place to think of the sacrifices of Jesus. Okay, sleeping without a pillow and death by a cross are two totally different things. But even the silliest reminders can make a huge impact. Also, I notice that sometimes I let sleeping an extra hour take precedence over having an hour of quiet time instead. If I can’t sleep, might as well crack open the bible, right? :) As far as my second sacrifice, eating after a specific time, this goes along with the sacrifice idea as well, but also health. A bowl of cereal before bed can be the best tasting food in the world sometimes. However, is it necessary? The short answer is no. I only do it because I’m bored or I’m tired of doing homework or something along those lines. It is simply for pleasure, and honestly, finding pleasure in food isn’t too Godly. Healthwise, I want to treat the body God has given me as good as possible. Feeding it sugary cereal before it goes to lie down for 8 hours and do nothing? Again, not the best idea. Giving up this late night snacking will not only be a reminder of the Lenten season, but also give my body some better treatment.
Now, moving on to the things I am adding this Lenten season. First, I am going to do the sign of the cross before and after I pray every single time. The sign of the cross has multiple purposes, but one is identifying oneself as a Catholic. I realize if I am in public or I am not around other Catholics, I won’t do the sign of the cross, and honestly, that worries me. I love my faith. I am proud of my faith. I don’t want to hide my faith. I want to do the sign of cross with honor and proudly identify myself as a Catholic. No more worrying what other people think. Second, I am going to pray before meals. In case you didn’t get the idea before, I like food. I mean, who doesn’t!? I tend to get a wee bit too excited to eat and forget to pray. However, I really do want to thank God for the gifts and sustenance he has placed in front of me. I am beyond lucky and grateful to have food to eat at every meal, as others aren’t that lucky. Long story short, I am going to try my darndest to pray before every meal. Third, I am going to put my social media to good use and tweet one thing everyday in regards to my faith. This kind of goes along with the idea of being proud of my faith, but also, I think it could make a great impact. Recently, I have been seeing more and more brokenness and negativity in the people who follow me on Twitter. Most of my followers I have never met, we simply share a common interest. I know you shouldn’t judge someone by what they tweet, but I can tell some of these people need something. Who knows what one tweet a day for 40 days could do? God works in incredible ways, and maybe my tweets can be one way!
Phew! This sums up what these next 40 days have in store for me. I get so excited about Lent. Although a dramatic and intense season, it ends with joy and happiness and I am definitely looking forward to seeing what this season has in store for me and those around me! No matter if you are Catholic or not, I pray this Lenten season can be a great one for you as well and one of growth and renewal, even if you don’t do anything special for Lent! God Bless!