It’s tempting to think of Lent as a time of deprivation, resignation, and heavy obligation. Many Catholics dread the season and view it in negative terms as a letdown, a spiritual drag, or dreary time of year. We feast on Mardi Gras, but the next day means we aren’t able to have or do something enjoyable for weeks. Adding to that perceived burden is the difficulty of thinking of something to do or give up for Lent.
If you experience Lent in these terms, there may be something you can do to put a more positive spin on the season. After reminding the people that God gave them land flowing with milk and honey, Moses said in the first reading this weekend that they should return a portion of those blessings to God, bringing him “the firstfruits of the products of the soil,” which he gave to them (Deuteronomy 26:9-10). Although each brought his or her own offering, the religious practice was viewed as a collective exercise done together as a community.
In a similar vein, maybe you could try something new for Lent. This year, consider “doing Lent together.” Instead of approaching it as a strictly private exercise, talk to a friend, loved one, or family member, or even a group of people, and agree together to give up the same food, activity, or time spent helping others, and keep each other apprised of your progress. I can affirm how motivating, energizing, and fulfilling this can be.
Doing Lent Together can make it a happy, positive time for us, something to look forward to and experience, with the best yet to come: the resurrection of Jesus, our great joy at Easter, and gratitude for the Spring full of new life.
--Jim Wollak, Parishioner
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