With Ash Wednesday we have begun the beautiful season of Lent. Lent is an opportunity. Yes, I did say that Lent is an opportunity. But you may be saying to yourself:  Lent seems more like an endurance test than an opportunity. So, let me explain. Traditionally, we would give something up during Lent and then try to prove to ourselves that we could do it. It often did become an endurance test.

In order to enter Lent as an opportunity we need proper perspective. Lent is not about self-improvement. It is not about proving that we can give up candy or cake, alcohol or soda. It is not about impressing God or other people. Lent is about becoming immersed in God and appreciating all that God does out of love for us in the person of Jesus Christ.

Fasting can have real benefit in becoming immersed in God, provided we have proper perspective. The purpose of fasting is to create a hunger within our spirit for the love of God. Giving up food or drink can serve this purpose. However, I think there are other forms of fasting that might be more relevant and beneficial for us today. If you are going to fast, why not fast from gossip or lying or talking behind someone’s back. Perhaps fasting from texting or using the cell phone unnecessarily would be a good idea. In my opinion, fasting is useless if it turns us in on ourselves. It should bring us to yearn for God and create space within our busy lives and cluttered spirits to listen for God.

Thus the criteria one might use in deciding what to do during Lent is twofold: to open our hearts to the person of Jesus Christ and to become immersed in Him as the Son of God. Praying with Scripture (using the readings for the following Sunday), spending quiet time with Christ before the Blessed Sacrament, and going to Confession are very valuable Lenten practices. Lent is an opportunity. Please take advantage of it.

May the Lord give you peace.