BY SISTER LAURETTA LEIPZIG
A comic strip called “The Lent-iest Lent Ever” was circulated and it went like this: A man and woman stand side by side as the woman looks at the long list in her hands. The man asked, “What are you giving up this Lent?” She answered, “First, I have to check the list of things I gave up during this pandemic.”
Someone wrote: “The prayer, fasting and almsgiving of the Lenten season overflowed into this year and has been creating a sense that Lent never really came to a close.” Sister Nancy Sylvester wrote an article about “giving up” in this time of Lent. She reminds us of our past years when, as a child, we struggled with choosing what we would try to give up in the six weeks of Lent. However, she suggests that it’s different this year. She reminds us that “giving up” this Lent has been before our eyes every day in the past year. We have had to refrain from visiting others, restaurant dinners, attending events and school in person, being physically present to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and the list can go on. However, in this imposed “giving up” we have experienced some new insights into what is important, of what we can let go and what is essential. Sylvester suggests that perhaps one of the best things we were asked to give up is our need to control every facet of our lives. In doing so, we could give God the space to be in control and we could free ourselves from the illusion that we are God.
And so she asks an important question. In reality would it be more beneficial for all of us to think about taking more time to spend with God this Lent rather than more giving up things? She suggests that we think about Jesus, our model, who lived in a similar tumultuous time as we have today – political and religious divisions, poverty, sick people in need of healing, people who were considered outcasts that required understanding and compassion. Another author, Sister Colleen Gibson, has given us some good advice and encourages us with her words. She says, “As we press on like the Israelites in the desert, we cannot lose sight of hope and the One who walks with us through this holy season. As God as our companion we are being asked to give up a lot of things at this time…but we journey forward together, giving all we are and all we hope to be to God. Deepening our relationship with God is the aim of whatever we choose to do this Lent.” Thankfully we have the certainty that, no matter the season, God will never “give up” on us! May we never lose sight of where this Lenten journey points us – to the hope-filled morning of Easter!