Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Lessons Last Year's Lent Taught Me

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.

Arithmosophic Cross - Salvador Dali

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!


Linking up with the #BISsisterhood and Tuesday Talk



  1. I really enjoyed reading this. I have always struggled trying to decide how to approach lent- love yohr thoughts. Thanks for sharing in Tuesday Talk

  2. One thing I have learned, is that I cannot sacrifice something that will make me unable to perform my role as a wife and mother effectively and joyfully. For example, I have always really enjoyed taking in part in "fasting" throughout Lent - fasting completely on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and then abstaining from snacking or eating lightly for two meals for the rest of Lent. Before I had children, I found this very rewarding for my soul. However, since I have been pregnant or nursing since 2010, the blood sugar dips that accompany such "sacrifices" make my whole family suffer a whole lot more than I. And that's just not in the spirit of things. This Lent, in addition to our normal family fast from cheese and sweets (so much easier to do that together - gets the kids involved too!), I am trying to work on patience and hopefully emerge from this Lent a better mother, wife, and overall human being. This is only day one. I haven't lost my temper yet, so....winning!

  3. Beautiful, Christina! I do so much better when I'm offering up my sufferings for a specific intention too. A lesson I learned from recent Lent is that it isn't just about me. But it's about growing in my marriage, as a family, and in my relationship with God. This might be obvious for most but I was just using Lent as a willpower exercise. So this Lent, I'm trying to be more like Mary instead of Martha (with God, my husband, and my kids). This is going to be a huge challenge! I'm always "busy" doing stuff on my to do list. Thanks for sharing this! -Jess

    1. Thanks, Jess! I love your point about Lent not only being about you! Such a good one that I haven't really pondered much. Thanks for sharing!

  4. Somewhere along the way, Lent became a competition. What you give up, take up, don't give up, etc. is so contentious. It's part of the Annual Lent Fight. Lent should not inspire fighting! I've learned that if I come out of Lent a better person, then I'm doing okay. I have also learned to choose one tiny goal (reading a daily reflection) and one stretch goal. Everything else is gravy, and if I don't make the stretch goal, at least I did more than zero with the tiny one!


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