Centuries ago, one man – a divine man – went into the desert to fast and pray for forty days. He was going to fast and pray for Himself … and for our world. He was also accepting temptation from His nemesis, trying to dissuade the divine man from accomplishing His divine mission – saving the world.
That man was Jesus.
Fast forward centuries later, and that time of fasting, prayer, and temptation is marked by yesterday’s stark reminder that, “we come from dust, and to dust we shall return.” That time of Jesus in the wilderness is marked by Ash Wednesday, which kicks off Lent.
There are three parts of Lent for Catholics – prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. At the root of all three is one major component.
I have recently seen social media preparing for this season of sacrifice by recommending what individuals should give up, versus what they should not give up. I have seen, and heard, people put down for their chosen sacrifice, being told what they are doing is, “Not good enough.” That the individual sacrifice of another pales in comparison to the sacrifice Jesus made for our sins… for the entire world. I have watched some people doubt their sacrifice – apologizing for not being able to give up more.
I have even heard others say, “We shouldn’t give anything up, because God wouldn’t want us to do so – He knows we can’t give up as much as His Son.”
And yet, I assert, in today’s society, where our creature comforts are so basic, we should strive to suffer a little. I’m not saying we should go out and fast for 40 days, and we shouldn’t give up all food or drink, because basic biology says that is dangerous.
But, we should be willing to give to God a little bit of our basic comforts.
Furthermore, we are all on an individual spiritual journey. Not everyone is ready, or able, to fast on bread and water alone for 1-2 days a week. So, they start at what they can handle.
They start with chocolate. They start with limiting social media. They start with taking only cold showers (I have mad respect for those that do this particular penance).
What is overlooked by others’ judgments is those small acts are creating a ripple effect…
A Ripple Effect of Sacrifice
Your sacrifice will look different than mine. My sacrifice will look different than my husband’s. And, all of them will be okay.
The point is, the sacrifice we have individually chosen for this Lent is chosen because we know it is a vice that is given to God.
The sacrifice is a commitment to work harder to appreciate His sacrifice on the cross at Calvary!
And, if we are all offering our individual sacrifice to God, on behalf of His Son’s Ultimate Sacrifice, I firmly believe our Divine Father will accept the sacrifice.
I also strongly believe our individual sacrifice will change us, interiorly, for the better. It will shape us and mold us, so we aren’t the Christians we were as we approached Lent. If we are committed to the sacrifice, and willing to sit with the discomfort it may bring even just a little bit, we will be changed for the better…
Which will create a ripple effect in our exterior lives…
Our sacrifices should not be diminished in their value, if we are remembering to turn to the One to whom we dedicate our sacrifices – God. We aren’t all called to give our lives like Christ or our martyred saints.
So, give up your chocolate, and don’t feel guilty.
Give up your social media, and don’t look back.
Give up your hot showers, and don’t apologize.
God knows your heart, and He knows your intentions. And, His approval is the only one that matters!