“Outward sacrifice, to be genuine, must be the expression of spiritual sacrifice…” (CCC #2100)
I must apologize to our Mid-Atlantic readers. I am the reason for the sub-zero temperatures two weeks ago, and now the crazy snow, sleet, freezing rain we have been getting. That’s right – I take full responsibility. You see, like many good Catholics, I gave up coffee for Lent. This is the first year I have ever given up coffee. I wasn’t much of a coffee drinker until I discovered French Vanilla Cappuccino. Between that delicious brew and Candy Cole’s homemade hot chocolate, I have been drinking 2-3 cups of these belly warming beverages every day since late fall. So, among other things, I decided that for Lent I would forego my new-found delights.
Now, with frigid winds and snow blowing all around, I find myself tempted – and we are now even half way into Lent. It’s enough to make a girl reconsider her Lenten practice, or at least, wonder why I ever gave up my coffee and hot chocolate.
That is not a bad question to ponder as we enter into the Lenten season. Why do we give up things for Lent?
We sacrifice because we love. Thus, mother wakes every other hour throughout the night to feed her new-born baby; a dad gets up in the middle of the night to check for monsters under the bed of his nightmare-ridden child; a daughter and her husband make changes to their home to allow for her newly-widowed mother to move in with them; a husband picks up a second job to make ends meet. A Father sends His only-begotten Son to suffer and died for his adopted children. A sacrifice, in order to truly be a sacrifice, needs to come from the heart.
We sacrifice because we are disciples. A disciple must be disciplined. Training is involved. Everyone is tempted at times. Even Jesus experienced temptations during his 40 days in the desert. If I train myself to say no to things that, in and of themselves, are not bad, then perhaps saying no may become easier when I am tempted to do what I ought not.
Blessed Mother Teresa was once asked why there were not many Americans in the Missionaries of Charity order she founded. She answered quite frankly that Americans were too soft. It is true, most of us are blessed with sturdy homes, warm beds, hot running water, fast food when needed, and entertainment easily had. All these material blessings often lead us to indulge ourselves. Not only can such leniencies affect the body, it can also weaken the soul.
Lent is a time to put ourselves on a spiritual time-out. We pay more attention to our soul’s well-being. The flesh is made subject to the spirit. A cup of coffee may be of little cost, yet whenever I desire the warming drink with a jolt of caffeine, I remember the One for whom I am disciplining myself. Choosing to make sacrifices strengthens my will so that I might be better equipped to do God’s will.
Thus, making sacrifices is a good practice for us Christians. After all, Jesus commanded us to daily take up our cross and follow Him (Luke 9:23). His sacrifice alone is perfect; mine joined with his is, nonetheless, a humble sign of my love and desire to do His will.
Copyright 2015 Kelly Guest.
photo courtesy of Wikimedia