BY MARIA SAUER
A question that I have heard brought up lately in conversation is, “What are you giving up for Lent?” Whether a person identifies as Christian or not, Lent becomes a time where we give things up or do extra things with no intention other than that it is something that we feel obliged to do. But why is it that we fast or take on some other form of discipline during the Lenten season?
Lent has always been my favorite time of the year. When I was younger, Lent marked the time where the snow began to melt, birds chirping could be heard through the brisk weather and recess moved away from being inside to being outside. Lent was a beautiful time nonetheless in the world of a young child. As I got older, Lent started to represent a time of rebirth through the seasons and in my own life. Winter would come to an end as spring shone through and my own gloomy days began to disappear as light filled my way. The more I reflected on Lent, the more beauty I saw in it. From looking forward to it as a mark of recess outside to now looking forward to it as a mark of rebirth, I find a vast amount of hope in the season. So as we give things up or make plans to do more positive things each day, we are making steps towards a rebirth. We are preparing ourselves for something that is soon to come. Our lives may be too dark now to fully welcome in a magnificent light, but that is why we take this journey.
Throughout the season of Lent, we convert from ways that make us incapable of loving and to ways that open us up to love without capacity. For Christians, this love is of ourselves, our neighbors and God. Surely we can do good things, but how great will they be unless they are through love? How many times do you go about your day doing things without knowing what they mean? If you are like myself, this is a constant. But, what if you were to pause during the day and reflect on what it means to fast and what it means to receive the Eucharist? What if you went even beyond that and reflected on why you do service or why you go to classes? You may not come to a concrete answer, but you may just discover a new meaning to what you do. This creates a more genuine way of life! If nothing else, you are turning away from just going through the motions to living an authentic life. Be driven by something more than a feeling of obligation. Be driven this Lenten season by the desire to grow closer to God, the desire to grow stronger in love, or the desire to recognize what’s preventing you from living an abundant life guided by love.
Ash Wednesday marks the first step on a person’s journey through Lent. As we deprive ourselves of our favorite foods or give alms, we are taking part in a suffering that will prepare our hearts for a new life. We turn away from one nature and turn towards a new nature of love. What’s driving you this Lenten season?