I “grew up” Catholic. My Dad and I would go to mass occasionally—sometimes there were spurts of more regular church going. If I’m being honest, I loved going to mass and I also really hated it. It was such a long service and I could never understand what the priest was talking about in “sing-song” manner.
I distinctly remember Ash Wednesday because my Dad would have us go to mass and we would leave with ash crosses marked on our foreheads. My Dad would always pick that night to insist on going out to eat.
I remember being so embarrassed showing up with ashes on my forehead. As I look back, I wish that I knew what I know now so I could have embraced why we, and so many others, did what we did and what it stood for.
My Dad would always give something up for lent, like meat, and I was expected to give something up as well, but never understood why. As I have grown in my walk with Christ, I now know why it is significant to sacrifice something and it’s so much more than just not having sweets for an extended amount of time.
When we stop and think about all that Jesus sacrificed for us, anything we could go without seems so inconsequential. Can we really go without social media? Ice cream? Television? Yes. We are merely uncomfortable. Would we give up our lives and endure immense suffering for people we will never meet, that will let us down over and over again and they may not even acknowledge our existence? Now that is sacrifice.
“In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.”
Lent lasts forty days, plus six Sundays, and starts with Ash Wednesday. It represents the period that Jesus was being tempted by the devil and laying the groundwork for His leadership.
“And He was in the wilderness forty days being tempted by Satan; and He was with the wild beasts, and the angels were ministering to Him”
It is also a time of spiritual preparation for us as followers of Christ, which leads up to Easter and is a period of prayer, devotion, and discipline. We cannot become disciples of God without discipline, hence the word itself. Because of this, I think it is important to study Jesus’ life on Earth leading up to His ultimate sacrifice and resurrection.
Easter may be the most important event of all, as His death and resurrection also signify the death of our old selves and lives and the beginning of our newness in Christ.
“The Lord, your God, is in your midst, a mighty savior, who will rejoice over you with gladness, and renew you in His love.”
Lent calls us to up our discipleship to a new level. We are to help others in any physical or material need. We are to be the hands and feet of Jesus always, but Lent should teach us to go above and beyond in our efforts to be a good and faithful servant. We are meant to transform from the inside out and it is much more than just a mental metamorphosis.
“I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of His resurrection and participation in His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.”
Let us take this opportunity to pray fervently and to meditate on what lent truly signifies.