"jesus is the reason for the season"
"Do not yield to the desires that once shaped you in your ignorance." —1 Peter 1:14
Lent begins tomorrow with the ashes of Ash Wednesday. It's common to hear people plan parties for tonight with huge amounts of sweets and other pleasures. After all, the thinking goes, we won't be able to enjoy ourselves again until Easter.
It's true that Lent is a season to focus on acts of self-denial. Self-denial, however, is not unique to Christians. Athletes (1 Cor 9:25), pregnant women, soldiers (2 Tm 2:4), dieters, Buddhists, and others often perform heroic acts of self-denial that make giving up chocolate for the forty days of Lent pale in comparison.
Our Lenten sacrifices must help us grow deeply in our relationship with Jesus. Our Lenten crosses, when joined to the sufferings of Jesus (1 Pt 4:13; Col 1:24; Phil 1:29), become acts of penance and reparation. Will your Lenten self-denials simply be acts of self-improvement, or will they help you to "draw close to God" (Jas 4:8)? Is your goal to "make it" to Easter with no failures, or is your goal to be united with the crucified Jesus out of love for Him?
As for not being able to "enjoy ourselves" again until Easter, when we draw close to Jesus in a spirit of repentance, we will find a joy that is heavenly (Lk 15:7, 10), "full" (Jn 16:24), and "inexpressible" (1 Pt 1:8). No Mardi Gras party can begin to compare with sharing in Jesus' joy. So why wait until tomorrow to "draw close to God"? Turn to Jesus today.
Prayer: Jesus, may I be so consumed with love of You that I don't even notice the pleasures of the world.
Promise: "There is no one who has given up home, brothers or sisters, mother or father, children or property, for Me and for the gospel who will not receive in this present age a hundred times as many." —Mk 10:29-30
Praise: St. Casimir was a conscientious objector who even as a teenager lived a highly disciplined, severe lifestyle.
Reference: (This teaching was submitted by a member of our editorial team.)
Rescript: †Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, August 8, 2013
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