10/2/08 – “Giving Up” During Lent

What did you give up for Lent?

It’s a common question at the beginning of this liturgical season. Yet sometimes we can become preoccupied for forty days about what we won’t do again until Easter.

This doesn’t mean that we should not abstain from things of our choosing during Lent. We must, however, do so with a clear understanding of why we are doing so. The gospel reading for this First Sunday of Lent provides us with the example of Christ himself.

It’s a story we hear every year: Jesus retreats to the desert for forty days and is then tempted. Jesus’ purpose? To focus himself intently on how he will serve his Father. This is shown not only in the fact that this retreat precedes his public ministry, but also in the great commitment and resolve he shows against the devil.

So it must be when we engage in the Lenten practices of prayer, fasting and almsgiving. We do these things not simply for the sake of doing so, or because we believe others will think poorly of us if we don’t. Rather, we do so in order to remove the distractions that keep us from focussing intently on God and how we will be Christ to the world. By removing those distractions through prayer, fasting and almsgiving, we create our own “desert”. Like Jesus, Elijah, and many others, this “desert” is a place where we step away from life’s temptations and allow God to speak to us.

It is such a retreat, a period of focussing intently on God that our catechumens also enter into during this Lenten season before their initiation. Please keep Mechelle in your prayers as she is elected by the Bishop and the Diocese to celebrate the Sacraments of Initiation at the Easter Vigil. Don’t forget that all are welcome to come to the rite of election this Sunday, 10 February at 2:00 p.m. at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

photo: Desert Leader

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