We have now entered the liturgical season of the Church known as Lent. Typically, people give up the little things in their life that they enjoy, such as chocolate or video games. Lenten sacrifices could include cutting back on a particularly addictive habit or activity, like regulating social media. It could even be an attempt to smile more than usual. St. Josemaria offers some great points from his book “The Way” on sacrifices that are very applicable to the season of lent.
“Where there is no self-denial, there is no virtue.” – St. Josemaria, “The Way.” no. 180
It can be extremely challenging to stick to your sacrifice, especially if you gave up something you really enjoy. But always keep in mind that Catholics offer up sacrifices in Lent in order to mirror the actions of Christ when he spent forty days in the desert. Even when Satan tried to tempt Jesus with the prospect of bread, Jesus turned him down, saying ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”(MT 4:4) Likewise, when we might be tempted to take that chocolate chip cookie, it’s always good to remember the self denial of Jesus.
“Choose mortifications that don’t mortify others.” – St. Josemaria, “The Way.” no. 179
Aim to stick to the sacrifices that aren’t too big or too important. If you drink coffee regularly and decide to give it up for Lent, you’ll probably end up with sleepy eyes and show off a grumpy attitude toward others. Don’t let your sacrifices get in the way of your interactions with your friends. Instead of cutting out the coffee, a great solution would be to cut back on the coffee. You mortify yourself for Lent, but you also prevent yourself from having a short temper and being cranky.
“Don’t neglect your spiritual reading. — Reading has made many saints.” – St. Josemaria, “The Way.” no. 116
A great Lenten goal is to meditate on some good spiritual reading like St. Josemaria’s “The Way.” The Gospels are also an excellent way to fulfill this resolution. Even five minutes spent reading the Gospel everyday is a great way to live Lent well. It helps if you place yourself inside the story and imagine the event around you. This way, you can grow closer to Christ because you were “there with him.”
May God bless you and good luck in your Lenten endeavors.