Why Lent?

Wikipedia gives a sensible explanation but here are my personal reflections:
Seconds after snapping this photo, the thought came to me, a revelation actually, since I don’t think my puny little mind could have come up with this on my own, that even all of nature is preparing for that glorious day. Every morning while I am playing on the floor with the girls and I look up, all the way from the living room through our kitchen window, I can see the bright, vibrant, green leaves on our tree that was completely barren not too long ago, getting fuller and fuller each day. It’s Spring. New Life is all around us. And although I am yearning to sing along with those chirping birds and rejoice in the gorgeous sunny weather, skip the journey and rush ahead to the celebration of our heavenly home, we are called to sacrifice. To meditate. To help carry His cross.
To remember. 
Sooooo His awesome bride, instituted these “rules”. Fasting, abstaining from meat, Holy Days of Obligation. The list goes on and on. But most people, including especially Catholics miss the boat by a long shot. The Church does not mandate these things to be authoritative. It doesn’t need anything but the Holy Spirit and the Holy priesthood for that. Rather, these things are for our good, our benefit, our path to holiness. Our salvation. She knows that if these weren’t obligations, we simply wouldn’t do them! On our own, I hardly believe we would fast (at least not in America), give alms, or go to church (at least not consistently or religiously) even though it is good for our souls. In other words, Mother Church invites us, facilitates and fosters a way to become closer to Her groom, Christ. Just as an earthly mother does in so many physical ways. Sadly, we have become luke-warm and stagnant or we simply obey without understanding the deeper meaning and experiencing the deeper beauty.
As I was sharing my frustrations and sadness with Daddy over an indifferent society obsessed with distractions; with finding the next thing “to do”; paganizing (my word) everything the Church has established; with finding purpose and significance in anything other than Jesus, the real, true, living Jesus who because of His love always called and commanded change, repentance, turning away from sin; and in the culture of moral relativism that does not see nor understand sin, or Satan or spiritual warfare, he summed it up perfectly, always so profoundly short and simple. He shared that it’s been said that it seems we have performed an even greater miracle than Jesus. He turned water into wine and we have managed to turn wine back into water. Wow….
For the next 40+ days, I have decided to sacrifice something that would ordinarily be tough, but manageable. However, because of my pregnancy condition, the word sacrifice is taken to a whole new level. I find it simply irresistible. I crave it, I want it, I (think I) need it! And that is…. sweets: Any kind, any way. You name it. But in order of preference and frequency of consumption: Donuts, Cookies, cakes, ice cream, candy, the list goes on and on.
(and I wonder why I gain 50 pounds during pregnancy!?! ha! )
It is only the end of day 2 and it has been quite challenging and I have already been tempted countless times. (We all know nothing can replace a good piece of chocolate and fruit juice, honey and peanut butter only go so far to curb that craving. Man, I sound like an addict!) It sounds silly. Over food? Really? REALLY. TRUST ME.  It’s important to insert here that as a stay at home, often vehicle-less, pregnant mom, I spend more time in the kitchen than anywhere else in the house. Yesterday, as I opened the fridge to grab something for either breakfast, snack time for Spicy, snack time for Sweets, snack time for mommy or lunch (I can’t remember, you get the point.) a package of Girl Scout Cookies next to a baggie of Hershey chocolate pieces was staring glaring me in the face. I kid you not (a mom-ism) almost audibly, I could hear the voice of the little devil over my left shoulder (you know, like in those cartoons) saying quite clearly in my ear: “Oooh, that’s too bad that those are going to go to waste and you’re going to have to throw them away since you are the primary consumer. Wow, that’s money you are wasting.” No joke, sarcastic tone included. No sooner that I came back with a “stop it” thought, I hear in my head “Cmon, you can have just ONE bite and start tomorrow. He won’t mind”.  Are you kidding me? Talk about the realness of temptation, of the devil, of evil. I slammed the fridge and walked to the cupboards. Although it was filled with healthy alternatives, my eyes went straight to a lid from a mysterious jar, (which wasn’t so mysterious since I knew exactly its contents) and despite it being covered by boxes and bags, my mind chose to obsess over it. The jar of Jelly Beans from Sweet G’s birthday party. Again, the temptations came. It was incredible. It was REAL. This happened over and over and over again. 
On my own, with no deeper motivation other than to “obey the rule” I am convinced I would have failed. My flesh, my passions, my desires are too strong and my will is too weak. But with just a whisper of the holy name of “Jesus” I regained all the strength I needed. I remembered His words to his disciples, “Can you not stay awake with me for even an hour?” and I was flooded with images from the stunning masterpiece, “The Passion of the Christ” movie as my eyes and mind were shifted away from self and onto His Love. Phew! It’s going to be a long, painful journey in my pathetic little attempt to share in His suffering but He’s so worth it and if I come to a deeper understanding of His sacrifice, even just a teensy weensy bit, I think I will rejoice all the more on Easter Sunday and shout “Hallelujah” just a little bit louder!  

On a side note, as I was listening to The Fish (Christian radio station) yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to hear the DJ talking about giving things up and people of all ages calling in to report what they were giving up and why it makes them a better Christian. I thought to myself “Hmm, I’m glad it’s not just a Catholic thing anymore” 

I love my faith and I love being Catholic!

2 Responses to Why Lent?

  1. Your so awesome! I love the way you listen, really listen to the Holy Spirit. This blog post is so perfect and so spiritual and so true in so many ways.

    It was so good to see you too on Wednesday.
    Miss ya,
    Michelle 🙂

  2. Thank you, Marisa, for your insightful, spiritual reflection on the most holy season of our church year. No gifts, no presents-just an invitation and opportunity to take a small step towards our eternal destination. I'll remember your reflection as I am tempted to renounce my lenten paltry lenten sacrifices. I know your image will provide me with strength and motivation. Thanks for the awesome words of inspiration. I love how the opening and closing pictures of the flower parralell our 40 day journey and the glory and joy that awaits us at the end. Love you, Dad

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