*Originally published in The Voice on March 9th.*
Lent is 40 days prior to Easter where, in the Catholic religion, people fast in preparation to celebrate Christ’s resurrection. Different Christian religions have different ways of celebrating the Lenten season. In the Catholic religion, people fast by selecting something they enjoy and giving it up for the full 40 days. In addition to that, Catholics do not eat meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, or any other Friday in lent
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According to catholic.com, the season of Lent is celebrated the 40 days before Easter, Christ’s resurrection, to honor the 40 days Jesus spent fasting in the desert before his public ministry. The fasting occurs in these 40 days, because Catholics are recognizing that Easter is the greatest religious holiday of the year and discipline is in order to celebrate that.
If you are Catholic, you battle with yourself every year trying to decide what to give up for Lent and if you’re not Catholic, you’ve certainly heard conversations about this topic from your Catholic friends. Each year, it is so difficult to not accidentally eat or drink or do what you gave up for Lent. Pizza places are swamped on Friday nights during Lent because of the no-meat rule and despite there being so many meals without meat, we always eat the ones that have it accidentally on Fridays.
But, why? Why is it so difficult for us to give up something we enjoy for 40 days to honor the man, the Lord, who gave himself up for us? Why does it become so hard for us to remember that on Fridays we cannot eat meat and we cannot eat those cookies because we gave them up. There are probably many answers to this question. One of the main reasons is probably because we are always busy. We’re rushing around all the time, trying to keep track of everything we need to do, that we forget to pray, or thank God, or make it to church, let alone remembering the rules of Lent.
For Catholics, Easter is the most joyous day of the year. It celebrates the day was Jesus resurrected from the dead and ascended into Heaven after giving up his life for us. We should be able to honor Jesus’ life for 40 days. We should use these 40 days of Lent to slow down, remember what is important in life, take more time to honor God and reconnect with our faith.
It should not be so hard to give up something, like cookies, or coffee, or social media, etc. and then accidentally drink/eat/use it during Lent. We should take a step back from out busy lifestyles and slow down to really consider what Lent stands for and why we’re going 40 days without soda or cookies and why we don’t eat meat on Fridays. We should take the time to appreciate the Lent and the approaching holiday, Easter.
We can easily take steps to ensure we don’t give into temptations and “accidentally” eat/drink/use what we gave up for lent. We can write sticky-note reminders, leave notes in our phone, plan our meals ahead of time. If we just slow down, and really think about Lent, it becomes so much less challenging.
I am not saying I’m perfect. I am guilty of accidentally eating cookies after giving them up or biting into a chicken tender only to later remember I was not supposed to eat because it is Friday. But, I’ve been recently wondering why it’s so simple for me to forget what the Lent rules are and it’s because I lose sight of how important Lent is as it is the preparation to celebrate the greatest day, Jesus’ resurrection: the entire reason for our lives and religion.
So, this Lent, I am going to concentrate on reminding myself why Lent is so sacred and in doing so, eliminate “cheating” on my fasting. I encourage fellow Catholics to do the same so that we can all strengthen our faith and relationship with God.