An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

An Italian-American living la dolce vita in the Deep South

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

These Forty Days of Lent (previous post)

Previously posted 2/6/08

Growing up, I tended to dread Lent because it usually meant 40 days of no sweets, or dessert, or television. I was expected to pray more, be nicer to my siblings, or stop being such a procrastinator. It was never fun, and I counted down the days until Easter Sunday.

Only in the last few years have I really begun to understand what this liturgical season offers. Just like I appreciate January 1st and the promise of a New Year, I like how Lent offers me the gift of spiritual renewal. I realize that we should strive for spiritual growth on a daily basis, but on a basic human level I need the emphasis and reminder that Lent provides.

During Lent I am more aware of trying to pray more, or attending daily mass, or spending some time in the adoration chapel. And yes, observing Lent also means offering up little sacrifices.

Why sacrifice? In today's world of instant gratification, giving up a luxury or a meal is a reminder of our many blessings. When we fast--from food or a certain behavior--the deprivation keeps us grounded and helps us not become too attached to worldly things. It also serves to reminds us that what we do without for just these forty days is, in fact, a way of life for many.

Offering up a sacrifice is also an excellent means of learning self-discipline...especially for children. It's good to learn that we can't have everything we want anytime we want. And by learning to say "no" to the little things, maybe it will help with bigger temptations.

During Advent we witnessed the joy of Christ's birth, but during the Lenten Season we are called to actively participate in Christ's life.

"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23). With those words we are called to walk in His ways, and our little sacrifices enable us to participate (in a very teeny, tiny way) in Christ's suffering as he headed to that cross on Calvary.

Easy? Not for me. But Christ's ultimate sacrifice led to His glorious resurrection, and I know that by participating in these 40 days of Lent I can better appreciate the fullness of the celebration on Easter morning.


Holly said...

Lovely post. I've come to appreciate so much more about my faith as I've grown up, so to speak. What used to be a burden or something I did because I was supposed to, has now become a choice that I treasure.

Lisa said...

Great post, Bia! I know for many our Lenten practices are hard to understand, but you've explained it perfectly. Glad the "ashing" went well this time! &:o)

Kathryn said...

Great post and good reminder of the true purpose of Lent, thanks!

Kellan said...

This was such a good post Bia. I am not Catholic and so I do not participate in lent, but i understand it and appreciate it - it is wonderful and I liked hearing more about it. Take care and have a good weekend - Kellan

GrandmaK said...

This is a wonderful reflection. I find the journey through Lent most fulfilling when I have companions on the way. They lift me up when I struggle with the temptation to falter. It is comforting to know I do not Journey Alone!!! Not only is my hand held by the Savior, but I am joined by others. I am not ALONE!! Thank you!!! Cathy

Abbey said...

I am glad I sought this post out of your blog. I share your feelings about Lent and I am more excited about my spiritual renewal than ever this year ... my spiritual journey has really flown this year and it means more to me than ever before. JOY!

Tiziana said...

Cara Maria, mi fai sempre riflettere molto e di questo te ne sono grata. Cercherò anch'io di fare ogni giorno un piccolo sacrifici, per poter onorare meglio la Quaresima.
Un abbraccio.

PAOLA said...

Se Tizi ha promesso un piccolo sacrificio al giorno, allora io non posso fare di meno. Prometto che cercherò in tutti modi di ricordarle di fare il piccolo sacrificio giornaliero! Mamma mia che cattiva che sono. a parte gli scherzi, grazie Maria per i tuoi pensieri.

Ellen Stewart (aka Ellie/El) said...

Was once a Catholic, but now after years of nothingness, I'm a non-denominational--a denomination in itself.

I have to say, I have never understood Lent, and no one has ever explained it well to me.

My last source, one of my fourth graders, is giving up gum. Um, he has braces and shouldn't be chewing it anyway...and when I asked him why, he said it was because Jesus gave His life for us. I said, "Jack, I can't imagine how giving up gum that you're not supposed to be chewing is anywhere near the sacrifice that Jesus made."

I know, kind of sarcastic toward a little kid, but he's bright, and he got it.

The point is, we can't ever even get near (and Jack and I talked about this too) the sacrifice He made for us. It's too all encompassing.

And the point I'm really trying to make: your post makes more sense than anything I've ever heard/read/had explained to me about Lenten sacrifice.

(However, I'm still stymied by the "Chreasters" of any denom. who go all "religious" this time of year, but who don't pay attention to or hope to grow closer to Him the rest of the year.)

There, I've vented.

Love from "Anonymous"...oh wait, my google i.d. is enacted...