“What are You Doing For Lent?”
By Amanda Traube & Patrick Perkins
By this time in Lent, we have heard the question from family or fellow parishioners. Possibly we have asked ourselves,” What am I going to do for Lent?” Let me offer you two perspectives on this annual dilemma; one from a husband, father, and grandfather and the other a daughter, sister, and high school senior. Despite our difference in age, our responses are surprisingly similar.
Lent is a time for renewal. It is a time to examine our faith and strengthen its place in our life. Through prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, we refocus on what is truly important. We walk with Jesus to Jerusalem, where He will give us His body and blood, His life, and finally our salvation.
When I was younger I didn’t appreciate Lent as much as I do now. I knew it was important but I saw it as a time to give up something and to go to church more often. It consisted of giving up chocolate, not fighting with my siblings, and helping more around the house. Too many times, I could not complete my commitments and would have to start over or adjust my plans. Easter became the finish line where I no longer had to adhere to any of my Lenten vows.
As I matured, so did my appreciation for Lent and its reforming power in my life. It no longer has a finish line but is only a starting point for the rest of my life. Some of the things we are doing this year are centered around placing my faith in the center of my life, through prayer, quiet time, and action. Instead of giving up a favorite food, maybe give up gossiping or being judgmental. Instead of just curtailing our time on television or social media, replace it with quiet time with the Lord or sending a positive communication to a different person each day.
For young children, Lent can be a difficult concept to comprehend. When my children were in grade school and even younger, we had ‘Turtle Time’ and ‘Penguin Time.’ Like a turtle that retracts into its shell, ‘Turtle Time’ was our daily time of quiet prayer. In contrast, like a penguin who is a very social animal, “Penguin Time’ was our daily time of good deeds in the name of Jesus.
For teenagers, instead of giving up something that often ended in failure and abandonment, take time out each day to do something good for yourselves and others. Let Lent be a time of faith possibilities and positive results. Before long, you may actually look forward to the season.
Last, remember that you are not alone. God the Father sent His Son, to guide us and The Holy Spirit to inspire us. We also have our family of faith to journey with us during these forty days. There is a comforting sense of unity, knowing that everyone in our church, as well as Catholics around the world, are also participating in Lent. Take some time today to recommit yourself to your Lenten goals or chose a new path. In that way, the next time you are asked, ”What are you doing for Lent?” you will know your answer.