A couple years ago, I listened as a priest was open and honest about his personal thoughts on Lent: It is not my favorite time, but it is a necessary time.
Both parts of his statement hit the mark. Lent commemorates, in part, the 40 days that Jesus was tempted by Satan in the desert. Just like Christ suffered, we are also invited to suffer in our own personal deserts over the course of 40 days. Not exactly the “invitation” that most of us take delight in receiving, right?
Although we don’t generally count toiling in the desert as a “favorite time,” the point of Lent isn’t about that. The focus shouldn’t be about creating pleasant moments of comfort and excess. Rather, it is about embracing prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
So where does the “necessary” part come in?
The Venerable Fulton Sheen said, “Unless there is a Good Friday in your life, there can be no Easter Sunday.” Although awful and violent, Jesus had to die on the cross for our sins. Without that death and the unspeakable suffering that accompanied it, there would be no Resurrection; there would be no Easter.
The next 40 days will culminate with Good Friday. This time of self-denial is necessary to adequately prepare for Easter. Because if we make no attempt to at least understand on an extremely small scale the suffering of Christ, how can we truly appreciate the most holiest of all feasts when it arrives this year on April 9?
Ash Wednesday is tomorrow! As I reflect on the priest’s words from his homily, I remind myself that the next 40 days are not supposed to be pleasant. Instead, they are supposed to be transformational and preparative. When it comes to recognizing Christ’s suffering and rejoicing in His victory over death, there is simply nothing more necessary than Lent. Don’t Blink.
Past Lenten Blog Posts
Lent 2022: Solidarity With Ukraine
The Lenten Road
The Journey of Lent
The Real Purpose of Lent