Now that Easter is around the corner, it’s a good time to reflect on how well we’ve been keeping up our Lenten sacrifices. For those keeping up with resolutions, keep it up! The end is near. For those who have been having struggling through it (like me), take heart! Jesus knows how hard it is. He sees every effort that we are making and is delighted by it! It doesn’t matter if we keep “failing,” as long as we get up each time we stumble. For those who haven’t resolved to make any sacrifice for Lent, maybe there’s a little uncertainty as to what it’s all for and thus little motivation to give up anything. Whatever the reason, it’s not too late! Consider committing to even one little sacrifice each day until Easter. You’ll be thankful that you did!
Lent is a time of spiritual transformation and conversion. All these Lenten practices are meant to help us become more and more like Jesus. Think of it as Pilates for the soul. By denying ourselves good things, we embrace the greater good. We train our souls to choose God over created things and His will over ours even when it’s tough – like choosing to tell the truth or choosing to stay patient with a misbehaving child or choosing to forgive someone who has offended us. It is our way of dying to ourselves and uniting our sufferings to that of our Lord.
“Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,
take up his cross, and follow me.” Matthew 16:24
It may be helpful to prayerfully choose a meaningful sacrifice that will benefit one’s soul the most. Below are a few suggestions:
Spend a few minutes or a longer amount of time in daily mental prayer
Go to daily mass
Read the Bible and meditate on it
Spend a few minutes before the Blessed Sacrament
Go to confession more often
Pray one decade or one whole rosary (if you don’t do it regularly)
Read any spiritual book, like the life of a saint
Do a daily examination of conscience at the end of the day
Pray the Divine Mercy prayer at 3 o’clock or the Angelus at noon
Donate time or money to a nearby soup kitchen or pregnancy center
Donate more time or money to your parish
Bring a cooked meal for an elderly or sick neighbor or to a family that just had a baby
Offer to babysit for someone
Call one family member or friend to see how they’re doing
Offer to do one chore at home that you don’t usually do
Limit or give up caffeine or sweets
Limit or give up eating out at restaurants
Limit or give up TV or listening to the radio
Limit or give up internet use or online shopping
Limit or give up social media
Limit or give up staying up too late
Give up the best parking spot
Fast from unkind words or gossiping
Fast from complaining
Whether breezing or struggling through Lent, it often helps to remember why we’re making these sacrifices in the first place. More than checking off something on our to-do list, we are given opportunities to grow closer to Jesus and carry our crosses with Him. It would be a pity if we missed out on this occasion and not even tried.
God does not look at the greatness of the act but at the love with which we do it. Striving to do one small act of love consistently and sincerely is more than enough. Like the apostles who Jesus commanded to provide for the five thousand, tell Him, “This is all I have.” He will take the two measly fish we offer Him and multiply it.