WHAT THIS POST IS ABOUT. It’s a reminder that “giving up something” for Lent is a good thing.
It’s time again to “give up something” for Lent, which sounds ominous and no fun. Who wants to give up anything?
I enjoy “giving up something” for Lent because doing so does what it is supposed to do. It gets me thinking about (or refocuses my attention on) the spiritual side of life. It reminds me that self-discipline isn’t a bad thing and sacrifice can become habit.
At the Ash Wednesday Mass at St. Albert the Great Catholic Church, Father Matthew Iwuji reminded those attending what Lent is all about. Keeping it simple, Fr. Matt used the popular example of giving up a favorite food for Lent, or in lieu of food something you like to do.
Fr. Matt said that giving up a favorite food or something you like to do for Lent is a way to teach oneself discipline that, in turn, can be used to improve one’s spiritual practice. After 40 days (the duration Jesus spent fasting in the desert) discipline and sacrifice become habit — hopefully leading to a better prayer life, a more consistent devotion, or whatever your end goal may be.
What to “give up” for 2019?
Last year, Fr. James Flynn (formerly of St. Francis of Assisi in Grapevine) said something that really resonated and challenged me to do better not just during Lent but all year.
I’m certainly misquoting here, but this is the gist of what Fr. Flynn said: “We often don’t give up anything that’s meaningful or impactful in our lives. We take the easy road. You want to give up smoking or drinking too much. Well, those things really aren’t good for you in the first place. You should be giving them up.
“Some people give up chocolate even though they don’t really like chocolate,” he said. “What good is that? You ought to give up something that’s meaningful to you, that you enjoy, that truly is a sacrifice.”
Last year I gave up craft beer and it almost killed me. I’m a big fan of IPAs, ales, sours, pretty much anything from a craft brewer, especially during spring training and the start of the baseball season, which coincides with Lent.
By the end of 40 days, I was the wanderer in the desert, tongue hanging out, searching for water, er, beer. I made it and, as difficult as it was, I learned a lot — enough to challenge myself again in 2019.
This time I’m giving up time-wasting games on the iPhone and iPad. Fr. Flynn might argue these are akin to smoking and drinking and I shouldn’t be playing them anyway. Yeah, but they don’t give me cancer or ruin my liver, so I’m OK with a card game every now and then . . .
Only I’ve come to realize I’m playing these time-wasters much more than I thought — while waiting in a line, sitting at the doctor’s office, watching TV at home in the evening, for a few minutes when I get up in the morning, when it’s time to go to bed, in the middle of the night when I get up to pee, and pretty much anytime I’m on the throne. I’m not alone. A lot of people waste time with online games.
So instead of playing a card game over the next 40 days I’ll be reading and studying (Mark this year), still attending church, still helping out the Knights of Columbus, praying the rosary, and basically doing what I’m supposed to be doing because “giving up something” for Lent is a good thing.