Finding God on Gannon’s campus: Lent provides opportunities for sacrifice, penance, reflection

Finding God on Gannon's campus: Lent provides opportunities for sacrifice, penance, reflection

With Lent approaching, Christians everywhere are likely making final decisions about what sacrifices they will make or what material item they will give up until Easter.
This 40-day observance is a solemn time of preparation and penance meant to center and ground Christians in their beliefs before celebrating one of the holiest of days.
This may seem like an exceptional way to make ready the way of a resurrected king, but unfortunately this practice can sometimes lead to a little bit of selfishness.
I think one of the most common things to give up for Lent is fattening foods, such as chocolate and ice cream. This definitely seems like an adequate sacrifice to those with a sweet tooth, but too often I hear people expressing the desire to lose weight because of this choice.
Losing weight could be a great unintended benefit of a religious practice, but I think that the focus of this decision should be on the reason why people give anything up in the first place.
I know I’ve been a personal offender of somewhat selfish offerings for Lent, but there are a few things that have helped me in maintaining focus on what truly matters.
One of the most important things is to know that giving something up is not at all mandatory. How someone decides to prepare for the death and resurrection of Jesus is up to each individual person and his or her relationship with God. Choosing to add something rather than taking away is a great way to show your devotion in a different way. Adding something can be praying a rosary each week or deciding to find somewhere to volunteer during Lent.
Another important point is to remember that giving something up is meant to be hard, and it’s meant to help us live in solidarity with the son of God and all he gave up in dying for our sins. Choosing something easy may help with being successful in abstinence, but choosing something challenging can help people see a sliver of what it was like to sacrifice as much as Jesus did through his crucifixion.
Lastly, these two actions can be combined and often work best hand in hand with each other.
Taking away something while adding something in replacement of that thing can help in keeping one’s eyes set on the true meaning of Lent. This is because instead of feelings of sadness and loss during the times people may want what they have given up, they can feel more meditative and deeply connected through prayer or a new action to ease these cravings.
An example of this may be giving up fast food for Lent and using the money that would be spent at a restaurant to donate to charity, rather than spend it on what was given up.
Whether it’s giving up ice cream or deciding to take more time to pray during Lent, I’m sure God appreciates the sacrifices his followers make in preparation for the coming of his son. Sometimes, though, it can be helpful to be reminded of the true focus of Lent.

ADRIANA LASKY
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