I grew up in the 50s and 60s. I learned my faith from the Baltimore Catechism. The priest faced the back altar and we celebrated Mass in Latin. A lot has changed since then!
I remember the season of Lent as a child. I remember giving up candy for six weeks. (That really was a sacrifice for me!) One year I gave up hitting my big sister. (That really was a sacrifice for me as well!)
As an adult, especially in recent years, I have chosen to ADD something to my Lenten Journey instead of TAKING SOMETHING AWAY.
I love to read. I read every night for at least an hour. A few years ago I thought that it would be a huge sacrifice to give up reading. But I rethought it and decided to read only bible-based stories or religious books. It was a very interesting experience and one that I feel helped me grow in my faith and knowledge of God.
While a lot of wonderful things have happened in my life this year, I have also had many trials. Trials that have made me really need to clear my mind and relax when I can. I have a daily habit that brings me pleasure and relaxation, which I need right now more than ever. I typically come into the office 1-1/2 to 2 hours before the office opens so I can work without distraction. About 15 minutes before the office opens, I take out my travel mug with my Second Cup of Coffee. (I’ve had my first around 6 a.m.) I stop for a few minutes to collect my thoughts, take a 10 minute mental break, and refocus.
I’m not sure what possessed me to decide this year to go back to the old model of Lenten sacrifice, but I chose to give up that Second Cup of Coffee.
EVERY DAY I think about wanting it. EVERY DAY I think about the sacrifice that God made for me. God gave up his Son, and Jesus gave up his life! It makes me think: What’s so important about a dumb cup of coffee, anyway?
What I am learning by not having my ritualistic relaxation is that I must rely on myself for how I feel. This is causing me to be stronger mentally and emotionally. (I know, it’s just coffee.) It’s kind of strange how we come to rely on things other than ourselves, isn’t it?
This week at the Parish Mission, we talked about our God-given gifts and talents and how we need to be cognizant of them to make ourselves the best version of ourselves (refer to Matthew Kelly). Each one of us is a unique creation and has so much to offer. We need to figure out who we are and decide how we can best serve God, each other, and ourselves.
There are still four weeks till Easter, plenty of time to make a Lenten promise if you haven’t already started. Whether you give up something significant or choose to focus on something to make you a better person, don’t delay. Take some time today to discern your course of action. Don’t show up at Easter wishing you had spent a better Lent.
I’d like to thank Leisa Anslinger for coming all the way from Ohio to spend three days with us last week. I am grateful to those who took the time to spend with her.