Fat Tuesday was yesterday, and I imagine the party in New Orleans has not stopped since the Saints impressive victory in the Super Bowl. But, like all good things, that Mardi Gras celebration must end, at least outwardly, as we officially enter into the season of Lent.
Today is Ash Wednesday and it marks the beginning of the forty weekdays until Easter Sunday.
Lent, for me, is a beautiful time in many ways. It is also a physically difficult time in other ways.
As a Catholic, I am asked to be aware of my Lenten spirituality. This means that, while I should always try to the very best of my abilities with God's grace to live a good and Christian life, I must be particularly aware of this during Lent. This is not always easy for me as I have a tendency to be selfish and put myself before others, including our Lord. Further, that whole fasting thing is very difficult for a fat man such as I am.
Lenten spirituality involves much prayer, alms-giving, and some degree of self sacrifice in the form of fasting and the abstention from meat on Fridays and Holy Days such as today.
In the past, I have given up soda as my personal sacrifice. I know this sounds ridiculous and trite, compared to the sacrifices of others... especially that of our Lord's. This is something that is a challenge for me though as I am a Mountain Dew addict. I stop just shy of pouring it on my Lucky Charms instead of milk. Several years back my beloved Jewish brother-in-law thought of me and brought me my first Mountain Dew on Easter morning. To me, that was a very Christian act! Yep, Ken is a fantastic guy indeed!
The point of a personal sacrifice is to bring one closer to God in prayer. The thought is that when whatever item or behaviour you gave up becomes a temptation for you during this time, you are to turn in prayer to God. Admittedly, I was dubious about this at first, but it does indeed work when done in sincere earnestness.
This year, instead of something as seemingly frivolous as soda pop, I am going to be giving up a lot more of my personal time in the service and love of others. As I noted before, I tend to be a selfish person and am very jealous of my personal time, so this will indeed be a very good thing for me and hopefully for those with whom I spend this time.
I anxiously wait the coming of Holy Week and its culmination on Easter Sunday. It is a great time of the year as Spring comes and the physical rebirth of the world begins anew. It is even greater because of the rebirth and strengthening of my faith in my heart and soul for my Lord during the Lenten Season. Hopefully it is for you too! May He bless you!