So, I’m a little bit crazy. My favorite “Catholic holiday” is the Easter Triduum, but most especially within that, Good Friday. Yeah, the day Jesus Christ died. Most people think that it’s just a little bit crazy that my favorite day would be the day Jesus died. But this is how I look at it: Christ died for us so we could be in Heaven with Him. If He didn’t die, what would it mean for me? Without Christ’s death, there can be no resurrection, no life after death (i.e., Easter and later, Heaven).
And as a result, I kinda love the whole of the Lenten season too.
Today is Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Lent is a time within the Catholic Church in which we prepare for Easter, when Christ rose from the dead. It is a 40-day period when we are to seek a deeper relationship with Christ and become holier. We accomplish this through the three traditional pillars of Lent, prayer, fasting and almsgiving (giving money and/or our time).
Often people give up things that are bad for them, and return to those things right after Lent is over. Lent is not a time for New Year’s Resolution-type things to be done. Rather, it is a time to turn away from our sin and be faithful to Christ. It is a time to recognize our humanity and sinfulness and seek to become holier.
I can say that from personal experience, I have made Lenten sacrifices that have carried over very well post-Lent and have helped me stay closer to Christ, such as my lack of listening to secular music, not swearing often, etc. But, I’ve also had some that haven’t stuck as well, such as not eating out often and not drinking anything except water.
Lent can be hard, but we’re not perfect. And that’s okay. Lent is for helping us become holier and closer to God.
And so I humbly offer just a few online resources to help you on your Lenten journey that have helped me at times too:
www.catholic.org/clife/lent/ -History of Lent and its symbols, FAQs and a Stations of the Cross
www.americancatholic.org –Daily Lenten blogs and a calendar with Daily Meditations
www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-resources/lent/ -Resources from our great U.S. Bishops, and includes Pope Benedict XVI’s message for Lent 2012
www.lifeteen.com –Especially great blogs for teens and young adults
“Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel.” -Roman Missal, Imposition of Ashes