By guest blogger Courtney Gareau ’17
I have a love hate relationship with Lent. I think that is great way to work on temperance and my relationship with God, but it is also difficult because nobody really enjoys giving things up for Lent. You at least have to enjoy whatever it is that you are giving up, hence the difficulty of giving up something for Lent. I once had to explain this to one of my first grade CCD students in a conversation that went like this:
Me: “So, have any of you decided what you are giving up for Lent?”
Boy [raises hand]: “Yes! I am giving up chocolate cake!”
Me: “Ok great! Do you really like chocolate cake?”
Boy: “Oh no! I hate chocolate cake! I only eat vanilla!”
Me: “Oh that’s not quite how Lent is supposed to work.”
I then went on to explain how you are supposed to give up something that you actually like and enjoy, which is far from what my student had been planning on doing.
We all associate Lent with something that we have to give up, and then the joy of getting to go back to eating that chocolate or scrolling on Facebook once Easter comes. This year, I am challenging myself to grow in other ways during Lent. I know that just giving up a food will mean that I start eating it again after Lent. While that forces discipline, I know that it won’t have long lasting effects for me. Instead, I am working on eating healthy to work on overall health. Additionally, as a way to bridge health and the discipline of sacrificing, I am giving up the thing that we all know to well – scrolling through all of our social media accounts to see what we have missed in the past hour. My Lenten goal to work on this is that I am not allowed to go on social media when I am laying in bed because by giving this up, I am cutting back on my screen time as well as giving myself those few extra minutes for an earlier bedtime as well as nightly prayer. This leads me to the last part of what I am working on for Lent – my prayer life. This cannot be boiled down to one specific thing because I am working on this in a few different areas including Mass, Adoration, and reflection. These are all things that happen in my life already, but this Lent, I am working on increasing the frequency in a hope to deepen my prayer life and relationship with God.
This year, I am really working on having my Lenten goals be things that can continue after Easter and not just end after the 40 days. When giving things up for Lent as a kid, my dad used to always tell me, “You can do anything for 40 days.” This is very true because even difficult sacrifices can be made for 40 days. My goal this year though is to challenge myself to make my goals ones that last much longer than the 40 days. I think that this is something that we can all work on because Lent should be a time to reflect on ourselves and our own lives and make the changes that are necessary to prepare ourselves for Christ’s death as well as the redemption that comes with His Resurrection on Easter Sunday. Jesus was in the desert for 40 days, but the Israelites were in the desert for 40 years. Can we challenge ourselves to make our Lent something that affects us for not just 40 days but for 40 years?
By guest blogger Courtney Gareau ’17 I have a love hate relationship with Lent. I think that is great way... MORE
By guest blogger Nicole Vaughan ’17.
One of my best friend’s favorite Bible passages is the Gospel Reading from Ash Wednesday. I think it really epitomizes what we are called to do during the Lenten season.
Jesus said to his disciples: “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them… when you give alms, do not let your left hand know what your right is doing, so that your almsgiving may be secret. … When you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. … When you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so you do not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18)
Jesus here compares what we should be doing to the hypocrites who let everyone know when they are giving alms, praying, and fasting. However, we are called not to brag about what we are doing this Lent. This time is about our relationship with the Lord.
I was late to the game about deciding what I would give up. In the past, I have given up a litany of things such as the elevator, French fries, Dunkin, chocolate, and gossiping. I decided this year that I am not giving something up. I usually end up talking about it way more than I am sacrificing. Everyone does not need to know what a righteous person I am for taking the stairs every time to Meagher 4th Floor (Lent 2k15). This does not make me holier than those around me. I think everyone compares what they give up or how much they give to what everyone else is doing. But it is not a time to be doing that.
This year, I am doing things that are more personal, prayerful, and meaningful which I hope will lead me closer to Jesus. I am going to pray the rosary once a week. When I was in high school, I prayed it twice a day during Lent – once in the morning on my commute to school and once before I went to sleep. The rosary has always held a special place in my heart since I was about 14 years old. I pray to have the strength and trust to say yes to Lord like Mary did. Mary says, “I am the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word.” This Lent, I am again asking for the strength and trust to accept God’s plan for me as I struggle with that and my need to control everything. I want to return to what I used to do to cultivate that strong relationship with God that I had when I was in high school.
Similarly, I am going to go to Mass during the week an additional few times. I try to make it a priority so I can spend time in silence in the chapel and with Jesus. In addition, I will set aside one day a week to fast. I fasted in high school as well typically during Lent on Fridays. This year I will again choose a day each week where I will fast. I do not want to remind everyone around me that I am fasting. The actions I am doing are important because I am making a sacrifice for God, but this Lent I am going to try my best not to boast or even talk about these actions. I want this Lent to be a time for my relationship with God to grow.
By guest blogger Nicole Vaughan ’17. One of my best friend’s favorite Bible passages is the Gospel Reading from Ash Wednesday.... MORE