The Lent Project
If you’re Catholic (and think that matters), the question of the week, and maybe of the past month is “What am I giving up for Lent?” Of course the discussion of this question is complicated by the fact that it’s easy to get caught up in either spiritual pride, or comparison, or hopelessness.
“You’re giving up sweets? Commonplace. I’M praying the Hail Mary and doing an ab crunch for every word. I’ll be holy AND hot by Easter!” (I am of course inspired by THIS weird list).
“Wow. Everyone around me is doing daily Holy Hours, walking barefoot everywhere AND reading the Imitation of Christ.. I couldn’t even pray every day last Lent. Why bother?”
Also, even when the decision itself is made in humility and prayer, it’s sometimes hard to decide whether to share with others one’s decision, or to keep it to oneself. Such conflicts arise as I’m inspired when I hear about other people’s Lenten sacrifices. But if I share mine with others, am I showing off? If other people know, they can help keep me accountable… but humility demands that I speak as little possible about myself. Then again pride often makes us self-sufficient and unwilling to open ourselves to others.
Obviously INTJ Catholics, like all other INTJs, over-analyze.
But the question everyone should face is- WHY? Why Lent? Why give up anything? Is it just a cool spiritual practice? A way to get healthy, like a ‘cleanse’, or just a test of your own willpower?
It’s more than that. First of all, Lent is not just about fasting- it’s about PRAYER, FASTING and ALMS-GIVING. It’s about re-aligning our hearts to God’s heart.
“Catholics aren’t Puritans- we like the pleasures of the body, we think they’re good, they’re God-given. BUT when they become dominant, they become the Lord of your life, then your deepest desire for God isn’t realized. And these desires are so pressing, they’re like little kids- ‘I want it, I want it, I want it’, ‘Now, now, now!’, and if you allow them to dominate you, they will take over your life.” Fr. Robert Barron
Lent is a chance to create space in our hearts and our priorities for the Lord, in a very practical way.
One of my favorite quotes is- “Discipline is remembering what you want.” But really it should be “Discipline is remembering WHOM you want.” To allow my restless heart to rest in Him, I need to take a breath from chasing after the things that don’t fully satisfy. To allow His light in as I dust off the mirror.
This Lent as I fast from certain things (including some social media) I will be focusing on and writing about what God is saying as He fills those empty spaces. This Lent let us walk together on this journey towards God’s heart.
*Due to religious persecution in certain countries, names have been changed or omitted for the safety of those involved.