Three Questions to Ask Yourself About Lent

Lent, Catholic Church, Liturgical Year

We’re a week into Lent.

That’s long enough to assess our strivings and attitude thus far in this season of penitence and conversion. In fact, it’s a really good time to re-consider what we’ve chosen to do or give up for Lent, since we’ve been able to test pilot our resolutions and yet there’s still plenty of time to implement changes.

If you answer “yes” to any of the three questions below, it’s time to re-evaluate and adjust your Lenten striving.

  1. Is what I’ve chosen for Lent too easy? If it takes little effort to fulfill any or all of your Lenten resolutions, then you might want to make them harder or add to them. For example, if you gave up coffee but weren’t much of a coffee drinker in the first place or barely notice its absence, it might be better to give up something else instead. Our Lenten resolutions should cost us some significant effort.
  2. Is what I’ve chosen for Lent too difficult? If it’s such a struggle that it’s draining the life out of you, figuratively speaking, then you’re defeating the purpose, Yes, Lenten striving should cost you some significant effort, but if it’s such a terrible struggle that you’re dreading the start of each new day, there’s a problem. If the struggle slides into resentment or feeling of failure, you’re not paving the way for spiritual growth. If you’re feeling like throwing in the towel, your heart won’t be open to the transformation God has in store for you this Lent.
  3. What is my attitude like? Granted, Lenten striving requires sacrifice, but if we’re facing it with a sulky demeanor, there’s a problem. Are you doing this because you have to or are you participating in Lenten striving because you want to? There’s a huge difference there. If you slug through Lent obligatorily,you’re not helping yourself much, nor are you acting as encouragement for others in their striving. It’s not unlike playing on a baseball team. If you swing the bat because the coach ordered you to, you’ll have far less power behind it than if you truly want to be a team player and help win the game.

Christ himself set the example for Lent.

Jesus’ temptation reveals the way in which the Son of God is Messiah, contrary to the way Satan proposes to him and the way men wish to attribute to him. This is why Christ vanquished the Tempter for us: “For we have not a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tested as we are, yet without sinning.” By the solemn forty days of Lent the Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert.  (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 540)

The objective of Lent is to strengthen ourselves against the Tempter and to become more Christ-like. If what we’ve chosen is self-defeating or such a breeze we barely think about it, then we’re not strengthening ourselves against Satan. If we’re trudging through Lent unenthusiastically, then we’re just wasting our time.

What we want is balance and positive attitude. That will help us to grow closer to Christ this Lent.

So, how’s Lent working out for you so far?

 

 

Image: The Battle Between Carnival and Lent, Wikimedia Commons

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