That being said, I truly look forward to Ash Wednesday each year. It's weird, but I enjoy attending the solemn mass first thing in the morning and receiving my ashes as a sign of my sin to wear throughout the day. While I try to be a good Catholic on a daily basis, I too often fail miserably. And it's easy to forget those failures and just keep moving on with life. The ashes remind me, for at least one day, that I am flawed and sinful and in need of God's grace and forgiveness. Thankfully, all I need do is ask and it is given. And, while I wear my crucifix on a nearly daily basis, I like that the ashes serve as an outward sign of my faith. I am not perfect in my faith, but it is still my faith and it is a central part of who I am.
Each Lent, we Catholics make sacrifices as a way of preparing our spirits for the coming celebration at Easter. Lent is a period of purification and penance, and people make sacrifices of all kinds to prepare themselves. Not all sacrifices are going without. Some people choose to give more -- volunteer work, donations to charity, other acts of generosity -- instead of giving something up. The important thing is that the sacrifice is individual and personal. It needs to actually mean something.
This year, I'm doing some of my traditional sacrifices as well as a few new ones.
First, I'll be fasting on Wednesdays, starting tomorrow (which is required because of the holy day). Weekly fasting will be a physical reminder of the sacrifice that Christ made for me. Hunger pains cannot begin to compare to the agony of The Passion, but it is my small sacrifice.
Second, I will be praying the Rosary twice weekly (at least). I always love praying the Rosary. It provides me with a quite time, dedicated to introspection and contemplations, but I never make time to actually do it. Praying the Rosary will help me to deepen and strengthen my faith as I prepare my spirit for the joy of Easter.
Third, I'm implementing TV restrictions. No more than 60 minutes of TV a day. I allow far too much of my time to be sucked away by mindless television. Time which would be better spent working, reading, exercising (or, praying the Rosary, for that matter!). Limiting my exposure to the mind suck for 40 days should be a wonderful opportunity to do something more worthwhile.
Finally, I'm also making my traditional sacrifices of no chocolate and pop of any kind, not even diet. Chocolate is something I TRULY LOVE and going without it for 40 days is pretty major for me, but I do it every year. Pop is something I enjoy just because it's there. It's something I don't need and shouldn't drink, and, therefore, Lent is the perfect opportunity to "kick it." It does nothing to help my body or spirit, so I shouldn't be drinking it.
Looking back at this list, it looks a little daunting. But any sacrifice worth making should be challenging and difficult, right? If it wasn't it wouldn't be a sacrifice.