Well today is Fat Tuesday [Mardi Gras] and it will be marked all around the world by celebration with great excess before faithfully resolving to give up some of our favorite things as a small sacrifice during the [approx.] 40 days and nights of Lent.
The purpose behind Lent is really more of a time of reflection as we prepare for the celebration of Easter. Starting tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, through prayer, penance and self-denial, Catholics hope to show God that although we could never truly be worthy, we are truly thankful for the sacrifice that he made for our sake and salvation. There is no greater love than the love of our Heavenly Father who gave us his only begotten son so that we may be freed from our sins and gain entrance into the kingdom of Heaven.
So the conversations begin… “What are you giving up for Lent this year?” We ponder what we will deny ourselves in a grand gesture of selfless martyrdom. Surely a month without chocolate will help clear my slate with Jesus for his passion and crucifixion? I mean after all, we’re talking no chocolate of any kind… cake, candy, ice cream or pudding… PLUS no meat on Fridays!
Yes in that text it does all sound pretty silly but again, the idea behind Lent is to cause one to reflect and hopefully inspire you to become a better person. To be more generous, kinder, thoughtful and caring of our fellowman.
And so I put it to you my readers, are you up to the challenge? Instead of worrying about something to “give up” could you instead look for something to add? Do you think you can find it in your heart to be a little more tolerant of others? Maybe less reactive? Spend more quality time with your children? How about taking time to bring sandwiches down to your local homeless shelter? You can do that WITH your children and instill in them the importance of giving back. Do you have an elderly neighbor that could use a hand? I am sure they would be so grateful if you stopped by on your way to the grocery store to see if they needed anything. Does a frazzled friend need a little “me” time? You can offer to babysit and allow her to catch a small breather.
If you look around you, I am sure your world will offer you endless possibilities to take a moment to help someone. It doesn’t have to be a stranger. It could be a friend, your spouse your kids, your parents a teacher virtually anyone that you can see is in need of help or relief. Even if all they may need is a smile. I promise you, you will benefit twice as much as they do and grow tenfold as a human being.
So in spite of the fact that Lent is a serious time of reflection, I say to you… Happy Lenten season! May your heart overflow with love and inspire you to make your little part of the world a better place.
Until next time,