Up until last year, Lent had always been a struggle for me.
It wasn't because I did not like it or understand the purpose for it.
Quite the opposite really.
Lent was attractive to me.
I wanted to enter fully into the season
and reap the benefits of the fasting, almsgiving, and prayer for which it called.
It seemed like nothing I could do was good enough.
There was a chasm between my sacrifice of lack-of-caffeine headaches
and Christ's wounded bonded on the cross.
Then a priest explained the role of fasting in a Christian life
as a way of disciplining ourselves in small ways so we could build up our will to overcome larger temptations and the pieces fell into place for me.
I wrote a reflection on it here.
Another thing I learned last year was the benefit of offering your practice up for an intention.
I study Theology and the fact that our little sufferings can be joined with Christ's
is awe-inspiring and humbling. This is such a beautiful gift.
I will be honest, however, when I am struggling not to cry because my head feels like it is in a vice and the only known source of comfort would be a tiny cup of caffeine
(so little no one would notice says the voice in my head)
I have a really hard time reflecting on the mystery of redemptive suffering
and saying the Lord's name in the form of a pious prayer.
It is so much easier for me to say I am going through this pain for an intention,
normally a specific person.
I can picture the person in my head.
I can call to mind my desire for their well being.
I can remind myself that I care for them
and would do even more difficult things for them.
Breaking the intention of my sacrifice down from something a little abstract
to something more tangible
gives me the inspiration to continue,
and in the end I walk away with a better understanding of the bigger meaning.
These lessons transformed my Lent
and I hope they will help you too!
What lessons have you learned from Lents gone by?
Happy Mardi Gras!