This morning was, mostly, like any other morning. My alarm went off and I pulled my limp, tired body from the bed and headed to the shower. It wasn’t until I was in the middle of my shower that I remembered what day this was. A smile flew to my lips. I have been looking foward to this day for several weeks.
Upon my arrival at breakfast, I saw that Sarah and I were the only Juniors at our table. Usually, a huge group of juniors dine together in the morning, bonding and laughing before our 8:30 classes. Actually, it suddenly occurred to me that almost no one was at breakfast and anyone who was had quite a frown upon their face. I couldn’t figure out why, but a Sophmore cleared up the confusion. As he wearily pulled his bagel out of the toaster, I wished him a Happy Ash Wednesday. He looked startled. “Happy?” he asked. Suddenly, it was all clear to me.
I think I am one of very few who actually look foward to the season of Lent. At first glance this may seem absolutely insane. I mean, we spend forty days and nights suffering with out things we absolutely adore, such as chocolate or warm showers. This whole season starts out with a day of fasting and abstaining. So, we are a bunch of half cognizant people who are on the verge of fainting and some energetic girl wishes one of them a Happy Ash Wednesday? I don’t think so.
But, try and look beyond the bodily sufferings for one moment. I mean, we Catholics are very lucky. We are encouraged to become like Christ in order to get to Heaven. For this purpose, we have the saints’ lives we can imitate and one heck of a Mother praying for us up there. Beyond this, we have a season in the calendar, an entire forty days, devoted to stripping ourselves of our bodily vices. Habit is a hard thing to make and break. That’s what this season is all about. Breaking the bad habits and making better ones. So, initially, Lent is a time of hardship and penance, but if one is willing to look beyond this to the results to be attained when Easter comes, its gets a little easier to bear.
I enjoy a good challenge. It’s this drive in me to try to outdo whatever is stopping me from completing my tasks. This is magnified in Lent. This is the one Season when we can look at oursleves, find what’s deterring us from attaining perfect happiness with God and strip it from our bodies. This, of course, is no easy task. But once we win the smaller battles victory is closer to being ours. By ridding ourselves of our bodily faults, slowly, we can feel ourselves becoming closer and closer to Christ.
And no one said that it would be easy. Lent is one of the most difficult times, too. Often, the end of Lent has found me failing in some aspect of my little promises. However, Christs expects this and He loves it. As long as we are remorseful and try again, He is forgiving of our faults. After all, during His long walk to Calvary, He fell three times. This wasn’t because He wanted to be face down in the dust. It was because He wanted to show us that it was ok to fall, as long as we get back up again. He doesn’t expect us to be perfect, only diligent.
Lent is no easy Season, but if we suffer with Christ in the desert, the rewards at Easter will be great. They will not be external rewards, unless you gave up sweets. These rewards will be so much deeper. They will have a profound effect on your spiritual life and life in general. You will feel so much closer to Christ and be amazed at the graces He pours upon you. When the going gets tough, keep in mind that you are always right there under the cross with Him, in and outside of Lent. When things seem impossible, just lean on Him. Yes, it’s humiliating to have to depend on someone else for strength, but you will feel His love radiating against your side. It is only through this humiliation that we can come to know Christ’s love for us. This will motivate you. And if you fall, Jesus falls with you. You are never alone.
So, Lent is not a time to be sad and weary. It’s a time to enjoy a unique closeness with Christ, a closeness that we can only enjoy during this time. And like Christmas, it only comes once a year, so take advantage of it. Challenge yourself. Change yourself. And when things seem tough, as they inevitably will, lean on Him. He is stronger than you will ever know. He dies for you, He also wants to carry you.
In closing, I wish you all a Happy Lent. May the Season be productive, life-changing, and humiliating. And I hope that, instead of walking around moping, you are taking full advantage of such a wonderful season, full of possibilities. Happy Lent!