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Not The Lent We Wanted (And What To Do About It) Latest

Not The Lent We Wanted (And What To Do About It)

Apr 01, 2020 by

So. Your Lent didn't quite turn out the way you expected. I can relate.

As I type, I have my earbuds playing some of my favorite music. Yet I had given up music for Lent. I am also eating the chocolate I just purchased for my kids' Easter baskets…

This is not the Lent I wanted. Not the Lent I expected.

On Friday, my book club had to meet over Zoom. On Sunday, my family watched Mass from our living room (for the third Sunday in a row). On Monday, I sifted through email after email trying to navigate distance learning. Today I went shopping for a holiday we will spend at home alone.

As I sat down to write a blog post about celebrating Palm Sunday, I was filled with sadness at the prospect of more weeks like this. So I turned to music and chocolate to get me through the afternoon.

This is not the Lent I wanted. Not the Lent I expected.

What is Lent About?

It’s likely that some (or all) of our Lenten sacrifices have been slipping away faster than our social lives—but let's not waste any time feeling like failures because of it. Rather, let's stop and take a look at what Lent is all about.

I can tell you what Lent is not about:

It isn't a competition about who can give up the most.

It isn't a test of our will power. It isn't a season to just "be a little nicer." It isn't a chance to get in shape or to gain a new good habit. It is so much more than that and it's so much simpler.

Lent is a time of preparation and reparation.

St. Francis Embracing the Crucified Christ by Francisco Ribalta

We are preparing to die with Christ on the Cross so that we can be resurrected to a new life of total union with God. When we give up chocolate or music or coffee creamer, we trust God to be our comfort and our happiness—we rely less on ourselves and more on Him. During Lent, we renew our efforts to turn away from sin and focus on Jesus and Mary’s total yes to the will of the Father.

Be Mary, not Eve

Unfortunately, like Eve, we usually grasp for happiness in our own way. Eve didn't trust God with her happiness and she tried to take it for herself. She brought death into the world.

Mary, on the other hand, fully trusted God with her life and gave God her unwavering YES, her fiat. She brought everlasting life into the world.

The Annunciation by Jan Janssens

We want to be like Mary, not like Eve. Every time we sin we take our happiness into our own hands and reject God's version of love. Every time we offer God a little bit of what we want, we are learning to trust God with our happiness.

Lenten sacrifices help us place ourselves in God's hands. We also prove that we are sorry for the times we have sinned. We don't want to trust our own version of happiness over God’s revelation of true love and happiness.

You Can Still Have the Best Lent Ever

Despite our failings, we can still have the most fruitful Lent of our lives.

Here’s the thing: becoming discouraged over our failings is another way we rely on ourselves more than on God! So what do we do when we’re discouraged over our failure at having the Lent we wanted or expected? We place the past month in God's capable hands.

Like a little kid giving his dad a scribble of a picture, we give God our Lent. We give God our disappointments, failures, worries, sacrifices, and our very selves. We trust God with who we are and what we have done and what we haven't done.

And we look forward to Holy Week, Easter, and beyond.

Renewing Lenten efforts

The Rest of Lent

Holy Week is coming up. Let us give God the humble gift of our Lent.

And let's start over again. We can start Lent over again, right here and right now. What does the Church prescribe for Lent? Prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.

As we head toward Easter, we can pray to God for the strength to smile and be cheerful. We can pray the Rosary and ask Mary to help us be more like her.

We can fast from complaining and worry. We can be generous with those around us (maybe buy groceries for the elderly neighbor, or mail the Church a check—they need to pay the bills even when the pews are empty).

Most importantly, we can invite God into our Lent.

Lent's not over yet. Let us partner with God to make it the best Lent of our lives.

P.S. Remember that even if you are lonely, you are not alone. Easter is coming.

P.P.S. I thought you might like to see some favorite resources as we approach Easter. Here's the top four for you.

Divine Mercy Standing CrossThe Pieta Prayer Book

A Worrier's Guide to the BibleCelebrating Saints and Seasons