Giving something up, right? We begin the holy season of Lent with resolutions about NOT eating, drinking, or doing certain things.
The Catholic Church even has rules about not eating too much on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and not eating meat on the Fridays of Lent.
Fine, but giving something up is not an end in itself; rather, it is a means to another end. For example:
- Creating the potential to establish a healthy habit by breaking an unhealthy one;
- Strengthening the virtue (a spiritual muscle) of obedience, by fasting and abstaining because the Church says to, even if we don’t want to or understand why;
- Exercising the discipline of a soldier, an athlete, or an artist, and as a result making it easier to say “no” to things that are bad for us, such as temptation to sin;
- Depriving ourselves of some comfort in order to comfort others (use the money to help others that we would’ve spent on ourselves; for example, there’s a house for someone homeless in Cedar Rapids that needs money to be built in honor of Pope Francis);
- Learning that things are not the source of our serenity, and so psyching ourselves up for the loss of stuff when it happens sometime in the future;
- Making it possible to receive divine gifts insofar as we have emptied ourselves of a desire for and acquisition of stuff;
- Positioning ourselves to complete the movement, turning from things so as to turn to Jesus.
That is indeed the point of giving something up for Lent, so that Easter is a celebration of a new depth to our life in Christ.
Grow closer to Jesus by reading about him in a gospel. Grow stronger in love of Jesus by speaking to him daily in personal prayer. Serve Jesus more by worshipping him at Holy Mass on Sunday, as well as by caring about and caring for others in need. Closer, stronger, and more.