A few weeks ago, my five year old, Maria, taught me the true meaning of Lent. Her younger sister, Clare, had an eye infection and administering her daily eye drops was a serious showdown. In an effort to bribe, I mean, motivate her, I handed over a sucker. I immediately felt guilty when I remembered that Maria had given up desserts for Lent. I watched as Maria took her sister’s wrapper and brought it to the trash. Coming back in the room, she said, “Mommy, while I was throwing the wrapper away I prayed, ‘Jesus, I love you more than lollies.’” I just died. THAT my friends, is what Lent is all about!
In my years as a youth minister I heard many an idea for a Lenten Sacrifice. The usual: soda, sweets, Facebook and coffee, ranked highest on the list. Close behind were sacrifices that sounded much more like New Year’s Resolutions. Teens (particularly girls) would often tell me that they were giving up carbs, eating after eight and refined sugars. Some would even talk about adding a daily workout as their Lenten Journey progressed.
While all of these things are great challenges, my next question always was: “How will this sacrifice make you holy?” This wasn’t to say that it couldn’t, on the contrary it was to point out that it could and should. It seems that we often focus on sacrifice for sacrifice’s sake. The real challenge of Lent isn’t just to strengthen our will-power, temperance and abs. These may be bi-products of the real mission which is to draw closer to Christ, join in His suffering and bring His sacrifice of love to the very forefront of our minds.
During Lent we imitate Jesus, who went into the desert leaving everything behind. As he ventures out into the wilderness He turns to you and says, “Will you come with me?” As we round the corner to Holy Week, let us offer our fasting and sacrifice with nothing but love. Let us say yes to Jesus through the Triduum and boldly pray, “Jesus, I love you more.”
Originally posted at steubenville.org