What will I give up for Lent

+JMJ+ During His forty days in the desert Jesus undid the temptations of the fall: pleasures, possessions and pride* and He did so by resisting the temptation to eat, to rule all the kingdoms of the world (I did giggle when the Devil offered that to Christ the King of the Universe), and to exalt Himself (as if He could exalt Himself anymore than He already was exalted, what with being God and all). Lent gives us a chance to join Him in overcoming our ancient enemy and his tactics, his temptations, and overcoming our weakness. And do we ever come face to face with our own weakness during Lent!

So this Lent I will be giving up some things but I’ll be doing so more in a spirit of mortification (dying to oneself) than just giving up this or that particular thing. Not giving up sugar in my tea as much as giving up something I do for pleasure, especially habitual pleasure, in this moment and the next. That may be sugar in my drink or salt on my meal or strawberry jam on my toast at tea time or whatever. 

Yes, I am obsessing over food at the moment. My body knows it’s Ash Wednesday today and it’s already going into panic mode, sending me signals that it’s feeling needy. But my mind is going to have to be stronger than my body. (Well, I would hope so. That is setting a pitifully low bar, after all.)

But Lent is not just about abstinence, not just about giving up things. It’s about a deeper and more intense season of the regular fasting, prayer and almsgiving we’re supposed to be doing the rest of the time, too. Our abstinence must be accompanied by those other spiritual practices or it could become just another self-help tool: abstain and break a habit. Fasting can become just another way to lose weight. We can do these things in a natural or a supernatural way. That’s something to remember as we walk this path: it’s not just what we do but how we do it and for Whom. On our own or united to Him.

Thanks for visiting the blog and reading. May we grow in holiness and virtue in this Lenten season, and, by His grace, become the saints the Lord intends us to be. God bless you, and may His peace be always with you. +JMJ+

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Notes and Links

  • *There are two kinds of pride, by the way, one is a mortal sin and one isn’t. The pride we take in a job well done is not a sin. The pride that makes us think we are better than everyone else and that the worship owed to God is owed to us—that’s the mortal sin kind of pride or the “…disordered love of self or irrational desire for self-exaltation.” “In ancient Greek hyperēphania is related to a verb meaning to out-shine or over-shine (hyper-phainō). In ancient Latin we have superbia, meaning arrogance or superiority. Basically, this is pointing to a love of self more than love of neighbors, more than love of God.”
  • The quote is from a blog post on the Introduction to the Spiritual Life: Walking the Path of Prayer with Jesus, by Brant Pitre, which you can purchase at Amazon in Hardcover or Kindle. (Amazon affiliate links, see Full Disclosure below.) Very highly recommended! (Brant Pitre and Scott Hahn are two of my favorite speakers and teachers. Both can give long talks without reading them–I really loathe having to hear people read their lectures–and are always interesting and even fun to hear and watch. I always learn something from them, something new or something deeper.)

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Image credit: The Temptation of Christ, by Ary Scheffer, via Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

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