Lent begins today, Ash Wednesday. Traditionally, Catholics will take on an extra discipline during the 40 days between now and Easter (some excluding Sundays) in the areas of prayer, penitence and charity.
Usually you hear of this as “giving something up for Lent,” but it doesn’t have to be. It’s just as good to branch out into something extra that enhances your spiritual life and brings you closer to God. Maybe better.
I asked my guardian angel one year, “What should I do for Lent?”
I got the reply, “Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.”
I thought, “Yeah, but what should I do?”
This is why my guardian angel has in a call to raise the dosage of that migraine medication. Because the point of Lent is to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.
At any rate, this year I’ve made a terrible discovery as I go through my search for the perfect thing to do for Lent to bring me closer to God. For you see, on the Catholic board I read, and on other Catholic weblogs, I’ve been encountering people for weeks who’ve been making Lenten resolutions along the lines of, “I’m going to pray all 20 decades of the rosary every day, read the whole Bible, fast twice a week, work with the poor, and give up chocolate, coffee, and every other brown food.”
Myself, I discovered I actually have no spirit of mortification. I look at things and think, “Oh, but that’d be hard.”
Because as we all know, dying on the cross was a picnic for Jesus. It’s a darned good thing he didn’t say, “You know, Father, it occurs to me that when they drive nails into my wrists, it’s going to hurt, and I don’t want that.”
So I imagine God patting me on the head saying, “That’s nice, dear. Now, I have this neat idea: how about you grow up a bit?”
I haven’t always been this way. Usually I embrace Lent (and I do love Lent) but last year among other things, I gave up sugar in my coffee, and it took something I enjoy and turned it into joylessness and bitterness. Which fits the theme of Lent quite nicely. But I’m reluctant to do it again.
Which probably means I should. But I don’t know. I’m writing this on Mardi Gras, and I still don’t know what I’m going to do. Other than try to turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel, that is.