By: Fr. Blake Britton
Lent is about sacrifice. But what does it mean to sacrifice? For many of us, it means to “give something up” or to do something that we do not like such as “sacrificing” chocolate. Yet, this is not a proper definition. The word “sacrifice” comes from two Latin words, sacra (holy) and facere (to make). To “sacrifice”, therefore, literally means “to make something/someone holy”. With this correct understanding of “sacrifice” in mind, we can identify two fundamental purposes of the season of Lent. Firstly, Lent is a time to recall the “sacrifice” of Christ and how He made all things holy through his suffering, passion, death and resurrection. Secondly, it is a time in which to conform ourselves to Christ by enacting sacrifice in our personal lives. Through her 2000 year history, the Church has identified three avenues of sacrifice (making ourselves holy): Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. Each of these acts correlate to one of the three theological virtues: Faith (prayer), Hope (fasting) and Charity (almsgiving). The following question guide is formed by this traditional wisdom and hopes to serve as an aid to help discern how God is calling you this Lenten season to become a saint through Faithful Prayer, Hopeful Fasting and Charitable Almsgiving. Go through each question slowly and answer them honestly, thinking about some daily practices and habits you and your family can form this Lent.
Do I spend at least 20-30 minutes of quality time in silence with God daily? Can I start attending Mass more than once a week? Has it been a while since I went to confession? What can I do to learn more about my Catholic faith? What daily reading and study can I start? Do I own a copy of the Catechism of the Catholic Church? Do I read the Bible every day? Do I know about the Lives of the Saints? Does our family pray together every day? What can I do to re-decorate my house to match the liturgical season?
What are the areas of my life in need of conversion? Which of the seven deadly sins do I struggle with the most? Pride, greed, lust, envy, gluttony, wrath or sloth? Which of the seven virtues do I need to focus on this Lent? Chastity, Temperance, Charity, Diligence, Patience, Kindness or Humility? How much of my life is spent with technology: Social media, video games, television? What technology can I fast from for Lent? What electronics or activities can I fast from so that I can spend more quality time with my family, especially my children/grandchildren? How can I fast from noise (radio in the car, television, music)? Besides desserts/sweets and alcohol (both of which we should fast from anyway during Lent), what additional ways can I fast from food and drink weekly? Only drink water with my meals? Eat simple and plain foods? What family fasts can we do together?
How can I give of my time, talent and treasure to my parish and community? Am I involved in a ministry? Do I have particular skills or talents that would enrich my parish or Catholic school? Am I contributing a just and fair amount to the parish offertory? In addition to my weekly offering, do I give money to Catholic Charities or some other Catholic charitable organization? Am I teaching my children/grandchildren how to be charitable and share their blessings with the poor? Do I humble myself in service to others? Do I volunteer time to serve those in need?