This is a an annual repost of a bonus Lenten Special. Just want to share what my SD sent me on understanding why we sacrifice during Lent :
My personal thoughts on taking on some measure of asceticism during Lent, Deb, is that all throughout the year, we protect ourselves from being vulnerable. And rightly so because we don’t wish to be made doormats by the forces of life. The downside of this is that we protect ourselves from any and all vulnerabilities–including those that would’ve mentored us towards humility, perseverance, patience, temperance out of love for others as the Lord commands us.
When we impose upon ourselves some measure of discomfort during Lent, we wish to be reminded that everything we’ve enjoyed at this point is all because of God, and that we are totally dependent on God’s grace. For isn’t it so that when the old comforts and conveniences are ‘taken away,’ it is then that we realize how blessed we were to have had them? We therefore deliberately ‘make them to be absent’ in order to make God’s goodness and our total dependence on him more present.
Secondly, it is not just through the sacramental penance that divine forgiveness begins to move (like I mentioned in last Sunday’s homily). We impose penance on ourselves in reparation for our sins. Whereas, we really do not have to (God does not force us to do so in order for him to forgive us), nevertheless, for us to approximate some of the pain and discomfort we have visited upon others, we therefore ‘pay’ the debt of pain we’ve incurred from others by putting ourselves through some measure of pain. As we’ve caused others pain and discomfort through our sins, we relinquish some of our convenience and comfort in reparation. Just as our more serious sinning very often springs from our abundance (Eden), then we hope a little holiness could spring anew when we put ourselves through some dearth (desert).
To fast from wine or from computer games or from dessert/sweets is all very good. But we hope that our self-imposed penance must: (1) intensify our sense of gratitude, and (2) deepen our regret for our failings.
When the Spirit breaks open his Son’s tomb on Easter, then our hearts will have been broken open anew as well.