Saturday, March 06, 2010

living Lent cheerfully

No, I didn't go on an Internet fast for Lent -- nor did I give up chocolate. Such might result in great suffering for those around me, which misses the point entirely.  I'm not really sure what has happened to the time that has elapsed since my last post and this one.  Life, I guess.   Living Lent.

The disciplines I have undertaken for Lent are meant to rid myself that which keeps me from God.  There are certain food-related things we are to abstain from during Lent (namely meat on Ash Wednesday and all the Fridays of Lent), though as a pregnant mother, the Church does not ask me to adhere to the fasting and abstinence laws with as strict an observance as women who are not pregnant or nursing (I still do abstain from meat on these days, making up the protein deficit with other foods).  I try to find other things from which to abstain in other ways (extravagance, for example).  And I'm trying to make a return to God in areas that I've let slide, such as the daily readings and certain daily prayers that had been routine but have somehow slipped through the cracks.  In fact, I think I'll look at it as trying to seal up those cracks with God himself.  As it should be.

But still, this undertaking is not easy -- nor is it meant to be.  Nothing worth doing well is going to come easily, now is it?  And when the going gets rough -- when I'm missing the pleasantries that are okay when enjoyed in moderation but are dangerous if they ultimately distract me from God, I'm faced with the choice to either despair at their absence or turn to God to fill in the gap they've left.  The latter is the whole point of the Lenten season.  To be more ascetic just for the sake of doing is not the objective; clearing out the clutter -- figuratively and literally -- to make room for God and to rely upon him instead of worldly things is what we're going for.

A few weeks in with a few more to go of Lent, it can seem like a long road.  But Lent doesn't last forever, and it doesn't exist for its own end.  The glorious celebration of Easter awaits.  We can't fully celebrate that feast without the mortification of Lent, and we live Lent in gratitude for the ultimate gifts of sacrifice and redemption each of us now possesses because of Easter.

We live as a people redeemed by Christ's sacrifice on the Cross, so when we are tempted to give into  melancholy or even despair over those things that we think bring us joy but really are rather inconsequential, let us offer those weaknesses to God and ask him to redirect our thoughts to Easter and its eternally joyous meaning.  Though it is a penitential season, I am striving to live Lent cheerfully -- and by that I mean in a manner grateful for the opportunities to unite my own small sufferings to those of Christ crucified.  By God's grace may we find ourselves closer to him than ever on Easter morning.

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