It's that time again. Lent. For some reason most people, including myself, don't get very excited about having to go through Lent. Yet it is a very sacred time and prepares us for the greatest feast of the year, Easter, making it one of the most important liturgical seasons. But we tend to feel like it isn't our favorite time of year. I think two reasons for this is because naturally no one enjoys penance, and we forget what the purpose of Lent truly is.
I came up with this acronym to describe the purpose of Lent and redirect our mindset of this penitential season.
L. The most important thing about Lent is growing in our love of God and neighbor. This should motivate us in whatever we choose to do to prepare for Easter. If there were never these special seasons, we would tend to become lukewarm and forget why we do things at all. Our spiritual practices become routine and dry. Lent reminds us to renew our fervor and intentions that we always remember our purpose in life, to know, love, and serve God.
E. Lent also serves to help us endure our sufferings. When we take on voluntary penances, they helps us accept the difficulties that come our way when we aren't asking for them. Also, committing to something for forty days requires endurance. We persevere in our observance because we have chosen to do so for God. This strengthens our resolve in persevering in our Faith throughout our lives.
N. Most people choose to give up something they like for Lent to practice self-denial, whether it be a particular food or source of entertainment. Others choose to work on eliminating a vice and turning it into a virtue. For example, instead of speaking ill of others, trying to find the good in them. These acts of self-denial remind us that this earth is passing and we can't take any of these material things with us anyway, and likewise our vices hinder us from advancing toward Heaven.
T. When we have fully taken advantage of the season of Lent to improve our spiritual life and focus more on eternal life, we will have truly triumphed. After we have lived our life well for the love of God, we will be rewarded by Him who promises good things to those who love Him. That will be our greatest triumph. Carrying the cross after Him in this life, enables us to reign with Him in the next.
We should embrace this season with zeal and joy. For here is an opportunity to grow in our Faith and union with God. So, whatever you are doing this Lent, persevere in it and always remember Who you are doing it for. Because Lent isn't about multiplying our penances and prayers so we are doing as much as we can. But rather, Lent is about doing what we are already doing with greater fervor and devotion. It may be you are suffering a lot this Lent without adding extra penances, in which case you are already united with our crucified Lord. But if you can add a few things, it shows our Lord that no sacrifice is too much to offer to Him. And He will be waiting for us at the end of Lent, as our resurrected King.