Well at least for me it is – maybe for everyone it is and always has been. I didn’t grow up Catholic, I grew up Southern Baptist – we didn’t have Lent in the Southern Baptist Church. My mom grew up Catholic and she talked about Catholic rites as if they were all meant to make you feel guilty, so that’s where a lot of MY impressions come from (forgive me my Catholic friends if I’m wrong).
Anyway, my husband was also raised Catholic and although we are now non-denominational Evangelicals, he usually gives something up for Lent every year and I make fun of him every year and tease him about feeling “Catholic guilt” while he does it.
This year our 5-year old son started going to Catholic grade school. It’s a great school and we love it. He goes through many of the traditions of the Catholic church and we have talks with him about what they mean and why the Catholic church does them but his church doesn’t and that it doesn’t matter because in the end we all believe in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice as our Savior, thus uniting us all as Christians. But as we discussed Lent this year, starting with Ash Wednesday and giving up something for the Lenten season, I realized that maybe there was something a bit more to all this Lent stuff. So in solidarity with my husband and to show Zachary what Lent is all about I decided to take Lent seriously this year and really give something up (besides lima beans or liver – which of course I don’t eat anyway). So I gave up chocolate and Starbucks.
As I started the season it was not that easy, I like both chocolate and Starbucks. But I very quickly realized that giving up something for Lent was not about sacrifice to feel loss or suffering. It was about giving up something so that just when you start to bitch and whine about what you don’t have you think about what Jesus sacrificed for you and then realize how much He loves you. I’m willingly giving up an experience I greatly enjoy for 40 days, Christ suffered and gave His mortal life, took on our suffering because he loves us. That makes me feel happy, warm, hugged – loved. No guilt. The best part – I think about that several times a day because I gave up two things I really like and think about having several times a day so it’s like getting a hug from Jesus several times a day. What a blessing! Lent ROCKS! Who knew????As my sister pointed out actually the best part is that after going through that sacrifice He still gave us chocolate and Starbucks. Yeah, that’s pretty cool.