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14 February 2010

Lent is upon us

Ash Wednesday is only a few short days away and that begins the season of Lent. Lent is a time to prepare your spirit for Christ's sacrifice at Easter. It is a time filled with prayer, fasting, self-sacrifice, and penance. It's actually one of my favorite times in the Catholic calendar. Every day is a reminder of Christ's sacrifice and our unworthiness ... more so than any other period in the calendar. It is so much easier to be mindful of Christ's sacrifice when we are intentionally depriving ourselves of earthly pleasures and making greater efforts to pray and give. I enjoy the ceremonial nature and ritualistic element of Lent. It is solemn and and pious and all leads up to the joy and splendor and hope and renewal that is Easter.

Every year, I try to decide what is most appropriate to give up and to give during the forty days of Lent. What is a big enough sacrifice that is worthy of the occasion but isn't too big that I will fail miserably? What balance do I want to find between giving and giving up? This year, I've come to some similar conclusions as well as a few new ones.

What I will give up:
1.) Mexican food - This is the one food that I crave and that I use for comfort food. I eat it at least once a week. I figure that, given how much I LOVE Mexican food, it is a worthy sacrifice.
2.) Pop - It is something that is bad for my body and provides me with no nutritional value. Giving it up for Lent is good two-fold: my body, given to me by God, will be healthier and I am making a sacrifice in His honor.
3.) Chocolate ... in ALL varieties: This one should be fairly obvious.
4.) Ice Cream ... in ALL Varieties: Again, fairly obvious.

Most of my sacrifices are food-related because food really is my weakness. I know that giving up other things in my daily routine are less of a challenge for me.

What I will give:
1.) Increase my donations to church - I will double my weekly contribution to the church collection each week. The money is well needed and well spent.
2.) Pray the Rosary each night - I will pray the Rosary each night to keep me mindful of my blessings and those who intervene on my behalf. Praying the Rosary will also allow me ample time for quiet reflection and contemplation.
3.) Donate to Heifer International - This will most likely be something that The Boy and I do together, but I would like to make a nice donation to this worthy and beneficial cause. We donate every year, but we haven't donated yet this year. I'd also like the donation to be larger.
4.) Pray for those I dislike or am angry at - This is going to be the hardest thing for me to give this year. I am pretty good at praying for those I love and care for, but I often ignore the prayer needs of those I harbor ill will towards. Christ asks us to turn the other cheek and forgive those who have offended us. I am okay with the "forgiveness" thing but only because I don't usually have to face it. If I force myself to pray for the needs and care of those I dislike, I will be behaving as a better Catholic by turning the other cheek.

I will also not be breaking my sacrifices on Sundays when it is permitted.

So there it is. My Lenten Pledge. I hope that I can fulfill these sacrifices and make myself worthy of the sacrifice that was made for me. And, by forgoing all of these pleasure and developing a stronger giving habit, I will be a better person. And it will make Easter all the more glorious and sweet.
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