Giving Up, Giving In, and Giving Back


I love Lent. That’s not an uncommon feeling in the Catholic blogosphere, at least the blogs I read, and it’s thanks to those blogs (and the podcasts I listen to lately!) that my understanding and appreciation for Lent has grown over the years.

Lent has always been a journey for me, a chance to discover and to be made new. It’s hard to believe I’ve traveled this path as a Catholic for ten years.*

Every year, it feels fresh and needed, and I expect that with the right mindset and my continued failings, it will continue to be that way.

Back when I taught third grace CCD,** we used to emphasize the three areas of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. It’s so common to hear about people giving things up for Lent, and I’ve also found it’s common to hear about people who have given up giving things up.

Thanks to those third graders and the years I spent teaching CCD, I learned to think of Lent as more than just giving up a favorite food. Thanks to Father Pat’s ongoing catechesis in our parish and the Catholic blogosphere, I’ve come to appreciate Lent for the desert it can be and Easter for the oasis it should be.

This year, I’ve been thinking of Lent in terms of giving up, giving in, and giving back.

A couple of years ago, I didn’t give anything up – there was no fasting from anything, in part because I was just lazy and I didn’t feel inspired (and, I’ll admit, I just didn’t think about it far enough out). And I felt the lack of it. I missed fasting; I missed the physical reminder of Lent.

But I couldn’t get over something Father said sometime (and I’m sure he has said it more than once) about how the fast should lead you closer to God. For example, if I’m giving up my lunch addiction to McDonald’s, that $10-20 a week should go to benefit the poor.

Giving in to God’s will, to his call to me to more fully live my vocation as wife and mother, friend and sister, aunt and woman, has meant that one year, in that time of day that has a hex marked all over it, I paused and prayed. Evenings are NOT my time of day – I’m an early riser through and through. I gave back those difficult evening hours to God through Evening Prayer.

The giving up, giving in, and giving back – my cutesy version of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving – all intertwine. Lent isn’t about one or the other – it’s about all three.

May your Lent be filled with many blessings, my dear friend. May you find God as you journey with Jesus through his Passion to his Resurrection.

*I joined the Church on Easter 2001, and I count Lent 2001 as my first Catholic Lent.

**CCD (which stood for Children’s Catholic Development in our parish and which we now call PSR – Parish School of Religion) is Catholic Sunday School, for those of you who aren’t Catholic.

Copyright 2011 Sarah Reinhard



About Author

When she’s not chasing kids, chugging coffee, or juggling work, Sarah Reinhard’s usually trying to stay up read just one…more…chapter. She writes and works in the midst of rural farm life with little ones underfoot. She is part of the team for the award-winning Catholic Mom’s Prayer Companion, as well as the author of a number of books. You can join her for a weekday take on Catholic life by subscribing to Triple Take, from Our Sunday Visitor.


  1. Elizabeth Juarez on

    I teach catechism for 5th grader. The kids really enjoy your worksheets. I was wondering if you have anything for Lent. Coloring, worksheet or anything that would be easy to understand at their age group. Thank you

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