Lenten Sacrifices

What are you giving up for Lent? Or, rather, why are you giving up whatever it is you are giving up? Are you giving up something out of a sense of obligation? I have given up lots of things for Lent over the years–television, caffeine, candy, chocolate…the list goes on. I have always had a difficult time keeping to my Lenten promises. Sometimes I would just forget that I gave it up until after I had already indulged in it. Mostly, though, I just lacked the perseverance to resist the temptation to eat chocolate or watch t.v.

I think the reason why I failed on my Lenten sacrifice is that I didn’t understand why I was giving something up. I didn’t know why I had to sacrifice something for Lent. The Church doesn’t ask for Lenten sacrifices to punish or to torture us. Lenten sacrifices are designed to draw us closer to Christ. If giving up chocolate for Lent doesn’t draw us closer to Christ, then the sacrifice is useless. It is just an exercise in self-torture. Instead of cursing ourselves (or the Church) every time we are tempted to indulge in what we sacrificed for Lent we should stop and pray. Pray that God will help us through the temptation. Pray that we will be drawn closer to Christ through the sacrifice.

I’m doing two things this Lent. First of all, I’m giving up Facebook, the social networking site that tends to be addictive. If you are on Facebook you understand what I mean. Every time I’m tempted to peak on my Facebook page I am going to say a prayer for all of my Facebook friends. I am also going to pray that God will give me the strength to overcome the temptation to look at my page and to overcome all temptations that come into my life. In addition to giving up Facebook, I am going to add something to my Lent. I am committing to get in front of the Blessed Sacrament every work day. It sounds easy enough. I work in a Church. The Blessed Sacrament is within several feet of my office. I know from attempts to do this in the past that it is more difficult than it sounds. Nevertheless, I am committing to add this to my routine. Whether I spend 5 minutes in prayer or 1 hour in prayer, I am going to get into the church every day.

Think about what you are giving up for Lent this year. Make a commitment to use this sacrifice as an opportunity to draw you closer to Christ. You will find that the Lord will strengthen you through your sacrifice if you give it to Him.

Published in: on February 24, 2009 at 8:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Shedding Blood

I read “The Word Among Us” each night before bed. The past two nights the scripture has been from Hebrews. One sentence has overlapped both days. It has gotten me thinking quite a bit: “In your fight against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood” (Hebrews 12:4).

We all struggle with sin in our lives. It is a part of our human nature. We should not beat ourselves up for it or allow ourselves to be overwhelmed with guilt over it. We should, however, ask ourselves “How hard am I fighting to resist the temptation to sin?” Since I first read this passage it has become a constant reminder that I am not doing enough. I give in too easily.

What should we do? We need to increase our persistence and discipline. This is exactly why I chose discipline as my new years resolution. I’m not doing as well as I would like with my resolution, but I’m not giving up. The goal of self-discipline comes with a lot of trial and failure along the way. Giving up just shows exactly how undisciplined we can be. Life should not be about seeking instant gratification and avoiding suffering. It needs to be about doing what is right, and oftentimes that means suffering.

Lord, give us the strength to do what is right. Give us the strength to endure suffering to overcome the temptation to sin, even to the point of shedding blood. Amen

Published in: on February 5, 2009 at 8:07 pm  Leave a Comment