I used to cringe every time Lent rolled around. Actually, I should qualify that statement. Once I started trying to become a better Catholic, I used to cringe every time Lent rolled around. Before that, I just ignored it. Sure, I gave up candy when I was a child, but I stopped doing that when I “grew up”. Eventually I realized my mistake and I learned to “pick up my cross” each Lent. I would generally give up my beloved desserts and it was PAINFUL! And that pain increased as the Lenten season progressed. It wouldn’t be unusual to find me at a convenience store drooling over the pastry display, counting the days until Easter! I know it sounds silly, but it’s a realistic look at my typical Lenten practice. I suspect you may be like me and have a similar story to share. Fortunately, I have good news for you. Lent doesn’t have to be painful!
Our main objective during Lent should be growing closer to Jesus. If we keep that in mind, any suffering that we endure will be outweighed by the sweetness of a close personal relationship with Christ. While there is always some pain involved when we give up something that we enjoy, that pain can be wiped away by the joy experienced when we are close to the Lord. During Lent, the Church encourages us to turn over a new leaf and to become better Christians. We are urged to repent, fast, pray and give alms. As a result, we move away from our sinful ways and grow closer to the Lord. I know that it sounds painful, but that’s the paradox of Christianity. If we are close to Jesus and cooperate with the grace that He gives us, our pain and suffering can be transformed into peace. That’s the effect of a personal encounter with the Lord!
I invite you to join me in the Lenten Radio Retreat that I am leading on my nightly Internet Radio Show. Every Monday thru Friday for the duration of Lent, I’ll read an excerpt from Fr. Larry Richard’s book, “Surrender: The Life Changing Power Of Doing God’s Will“, read and discuss the daily Mass readings and share a series of short (but POWERFUL) meditations entitled “Lenten Lollipops” (from the book of the same name by Fr. Francis Boylan).
Make no mistake about the fact that it won’t be all fun and games. We’ll look at our sinfulness, repent and fast. More importantly, however, we’ll work on growing closer to Jesus during this Lenten season. And that, my friends, will take the sting out of the process. None of us are guaranteed to have another Lent. Let’s make this one count. Together, we can take advantage of this opportunity to grow in holiness. Why not tune in to our Lenten Radio Retreat and give it a try?
“Make this Lent as if it were your first Lent, your last Lent; as if it were to be the only Lent in your lives.” (Fr. Francis Boylan, Lenten Lollipops)