I've heard many talks on Lent and my favorite has to do with the purpose of a sacrifice during Lent. Whether we 'give up' something or 'do something extra' has bigger meaning than just "This is what we do, as Catholics". Never really letting it sink in while I was growing up, I was determined to have some kind of explanation for my kids as to why they must sacrifice something small....for these forty days.
This bigger meaning, which comes from our personal sacrifice....from all I've gathered over the years, is meant to bring us closer to God, closer to God's will in our lives. At the same time, breaking a few unnecessary attachments helps us to focus on that bigger meaning.
Years back, I struggled with a Pepsi addiction. Read here for THAT memory. It was tough, to say the least. My life seemed to be consumed with where I was going to get my next fountain Pepsi fix. Even when trying to think about God, I found that if I didn't have my Pepsi, oh, forget it, it wasn't going to happen.
And then Lent presented itself with that opportunity to fine-tune my life. I wanted to break that addiction. I wanted freedom from the caffeine headaches, the cravings and the excuse to run through a drive-thru. It took a few weeks. It was a couple of cranky weeks for me. But I haven't looked back.
Some years I had unrealistic expectations of myself. I'd do this, I'd break that bad habit, I'd also cut out that food...and so on. And I always failed carrying it all through to Easter. But that Pepsi Lent, as I like to think of it, I just took one thing, and it was a biggie for me, but just one thing to conquer. And after letting that addiction go, I was me again.....I was calm, peaceful, healthy and not making silly excuses to leave the house. In a sense, I think I was able to think straight, and see what God wanted from me in that time period of my life.
I cut out something seemingly so important to me. I thought life just wasn't right without my day-long sipping binges. And then Easter came. Celebrating Jesus' rising from the dead, and the Hope He gave us with His resurrection, brings to mind how after we suffer our little sacrifices for God, we too, have a return to Hope.
We are more focused, we are more detached. We are more ready. We can see Him clearer, understand Him a bit better, know Him more and ultimately Love Him more for the gift of His life, His death, and rising. ......And we know Him better having experienced our own little sufferings...the fasts, the meatless dinners, cutting back sugar or coffee or whatever the vice is. We can have a little glimpse of God, as we suffer these 40 days. He was man too, with all the pain and sufferings that we struggle with.
Lent is a time to unite ourselves to Him, walk His journey for a while....feel the twinges of pain every now and again, that remind us to form ourselves anew, that we conquer our vices for Him, so that we might know His will clearer.
Lent CAN do that. We have to simply do our part during this season. Maybe it's a small thing in the eyes of others, maybe it's a small thing in the eyes of society....but if it's a big thing for you, it's a big thing to God.
Two more days. Thing of just one thing. Just one. I'm nailing down mine, .....no pun intended.