A Penitent Blogger

Mindful of my imperfections, seeking to know Truth more deeply and to live Love more fully.

Quid sum miser tunc dicturus? Quem patronum rogaturus? Cum vix iustus sit securus?
Recordare, Iesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die...

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

What are you giving up?

Many people follow the practice of "giving something up for Lent."

Some people follow the practice of "doing something extra" for Lent: e.g., extra daily time for prayer, Daily Mass, additional charitable service, etc.

Some people do both.

The idea of giving things up has a special prominence in today’s Gospel (Mark 10:28-31):

Then Peter began to say unto him,
Lo, we have left all, and have followed thee.

As sinful people in a sinful world, there are obviously many things that we have to give up in order to follow Christ: sinful things - directly opposed to the ways of God.

Sometimes there are things that are not evil or sinful in themselves but that we need to give up because they are stumbling blocks for us personally, causing us to sin or to lose focus on the things of heaven.

Likewise, there may be things that neither violate God's law nor otherwise affect us morally or spiritually, but that we may need to give up because they can needlessly cause others to stumble on our account.

Finally, there are things that are neither stumbling blocks nor intrinsically evil, but which we give up as a sign that our ultimate fulfillment is not here in this life and the things of this world, but rather in the eternal blessedness of heaven.

"Giving something up for Lent" generally falls into the latter category: a concrete reminder of our otherworldly destiny.

And yet the beginning of Lent is also an important opportunity to take stock of all the things in our lives and to consider what holy things we need to add and what worldly things we need to remove - an opportunity that can be squandered if we simply do the "usual" things such as giving up candy.

We would do well to take advantage of this opportunity to pray and to discern how we can better fulfill our responsibilities as servants of the Lord: what to leave behind and what to take on in Christ.

And Jesus answered and said,
Verily I say unto you,
There is no man that hath left house, or brethren,
or sisters, or father, or mother,
or wife, or children, or lands,
for my sake, and the gospel's,
But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time,
houses, and brethren, and sisters,
and mothers, and children, and lands,
with persecutions;
and in the world to come
eternal life.