Matthew 6:16

"When you fast, do not look gloomy..."

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Love and Sacrifice: How They Relate to Lent

Yesterday, on my other blog, I posted an essay on sacrifice.I ended that post with the statement " Love prompts us to meet someone else's need, even when it has a dear cost."

Which brings me to the question, what need do we meet when we sacrifice during Lent (which begins March 9).   God has no need of anything from us.  Why give up anything?   The answer my heart comes up with is to meet our own need to show our love.   Did you ever notice how children don't keep their love bottled in, but show it, whether it is in hugging a parent, drawing a picture for a teacher, or pulling the hair of the girl in front of them?   They just can't keep it inside!

That is how our love for God needs to be (and I don't mean to suggest that Lent is the ONLY time we should do this, any more than Christmas is the only time we are to be in awe of the Incarnation.):  we need to love Him so much that we must show Him our love!  How does giving up donuts do that?   Well, if we have become so enamored of that donut that we miss it if we don't have it in the morning, isn't it a lovely gift to give to Him?   Doesn't it say "YOU, Lord, are the sweetest thing in my life! "  ? What if we don't like donuts?   Then it isn't a sacrifice, is it?

But the point here is love.   How big the sacrifice isn't the point.    There is no big or small in this.   Giving up a morning cup of tea would be hardly anything to me, but very difficult for someone else, while cutting my computer time in half would give me fits, and hardly noticeable to someone else.  Giving up alcohol was difficult last year, when it seemed I needed a bit of whiskey in my tea to fall asleep, while this year I haven't had any since I drank a glass of wine on New Year's Eve.

 If I gave up food and water for forty days, I'd die, and I still wouldn't in any way, shape, or form repay God for His sacrifice, anyway, so though I owe Him everything, there is no point acting from obligation, but from love. 

While I don't mean to deny the penitential nature of Lent, I would submit that, again, we are only penitent because we have learned to LOVE, and regret unloving actions of the past.   We can't make up for those unloving actions at all, but can show that we DO love now by sacrifice.

What do I cherish that I can give to Him during Lent's forty days because I love Him?   I have until March 9 to talk this over with Him and decide.

The above design was done by my friend, Wendy, whose etsy page can be found by clicking this sentence.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Why This Blog is Called "Happy Lent"

The above word art can be found by clicking on this sentence.

This is the first post for Happy Lent.   I was thinking that perhaps the title of this blog seems perplexing to you.

I taught at a Catholic School for thirteen years.   I spent nine of those years teaching second graders.  That is a very sweet age.    At this age, children will draw a picture for you and / or make a card for you for any reason.  Sneeze.  Cough.  Pass gas.  It doesn't really matter.  They will also make cards for your loved ones.  When my mom was in the hospital when I taught, she got dozens of cards every day.   I waited until she was out of intensive care to bring them to the hospital though...

Anyway, I spent a bit of time teaching children each year about how much Jesus loves us, and the proof being His great sacrifice.   We talk some about that.   Then I talk to them about how they can "fast"  by sacrificing something to say "I love you" to Him.   We talk about the meaning of sacrifice, and what sort of things we can sacrifice (no ice cream is a sacrifice, no broccoli,  not so much.... ) 

Inevitably though, Ash Wednesday comes along, and at least half of the children present me with "Happy Lent" cards they made during lunch.   For a while, I felt like I must have missed the mark in these lessons, because the tots thought of it like any other holiday...

But praying about what to call my Lent blog, it seemed I kept coming back to a picture a sweet little girl drew of flowers and smiley faces surrounding the words "Happy Lent" in bubble letters (That would be the header of for this blog except that  I have NO clue how to do that!)  I realized that those kids were teaching me something:  don't forget the joy.   His great sacrifice is given out of His love, and our small one to show our love.   I need to focus on the joy that love brings me, even as I solemnly remember the great cost to Him.

I hope that if you found the title for this blog a bit inappropriate, this explanation changes your mind, or at least seems less so.