Pathways through Lent

Lent as a gift

by Elizabeth Morin

The Fifth Monday of Lent

[George Augustus Selwyn, Bishop of New Zealand, and of Lichfield, 1878]

Jeremiah 24:1-10 Psalms 31, 35 Romans 9:19-33 John 9:1-17

When I was growing up Catholic, Lent was one of my least favorite times of the year. Dinner at McDonald’s with a McFish on Fridays soothed the pain, but losing all sweets from the house was painful, and my efforts to give up broccoli were met with disagreeable looks from my mother and a loss of a toy I had no desire to sacrifice to her angry God.

As I became an adult, I stopped viewing Lent with disdain, although I continued to miss its point. Lent instead became fantastic opportunity to lose weight, a divine Weight Watchers wherein french fries were an actual sin as opposed to just a bad idea for summer’s bikini. Last year, my coworker said, “You’re giving up fries again? If you really loved Jesus, you’d give up the one thing you love more than life: Facebook.” And so I did. I gave up Facebook for what I worried would be the longest 40 days of my life.

Instead, it reminded me why the Orthodox call Lent bright sadness. It was a time of both celebration and mourning. I mourned maintaining friendships with 500 people online but deepened connections with others by forcing a more personal interaction. I got off the Internet and engaged in the joy of real life.

Our sacrifices for Lent often seem impossible⎯but God’s required sacrifices are often also a gift. We may struggle, but isn’t that the point? We may give up many things, but we receive a reminder of the powerful need for the crucifixion and the joy at Easter and the resurrection.

Lent traditionally was a time of preparation for Baptism (Photo: 6th c. Baptismal Font in the Negev by M. Angell)
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