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Lent Should Hurt, But We Aren’t Alone

Lent is a liturgical season brimming with immense graces. It is a time when we are called to fully re-commit our lives to God. To look honestly and with humility at those areas of our lives that are marred by habitual sins, worldly attachments, and distractions. Through this season of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving, we are called to deeper conversion. It is a season that should stretch us to our very limits, so that through our weakness, we can encounter the Lord who is our strength. Lent isn’t easy, but we have spiritual friends supporting us throughout the coming weeks.

Lent is an opportunity to seek greater freedom in the Lord, to repent of our sins that deeply offend Him, and to atone for the sins of others. When we examine our lives, we very quickly discover that we are slaves to our many appetites and that our bodies are not fully the radiant temples of the Holy Spirit they should be. Instead, we are ruled by pride, anger, food, lust, technology, distractions, power, control, possessions, and even relationships. All of us, upon a thorough examination of conscience, will discover that we live closer to slavery to habitual sin than the freedom Christ wants to give to us through a life of holiness that can only be won through self-denial.

As Catholics, Lent is an opportunity to abandon the lies of our culture, the devil, and our ego and body that tell us we should live only for comfort and the things of this world. This is accomplished by committing to deeper fasting. Our Eastern Catholic brothers and sisters, as well as the asceticism practiced by numerous religious orders, can help us fully commit to penances and fasting this Lent. We must stop making excuses for our slavery, and instead, embrace the medicine the Lord wants to extend to us in this Lenten season.

This season should hurt. It should be very difficult because we are weak and fallen. If we have chosen something that is only mildly difficult then we have misunderstood what rending our hearts and returning the Lord truly means. Eastern Catholics embrace a form of fasting and abstinence that seeks to bring the body into submission to the much higher soul. They essentially spend the season vegan and only eat one meal a day with only a slight shift on weekends. Many religious communities practice austere fasting not only during Lent, but in the period between the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and Easter. In fact, more dedicated fasting practices were widespread in previous centuries. The Lord has used these practices to help raise up countless saints. It is something we need to reclaim in the Latin Rite. The lay faithful are capable of much more than the bare minimum. Eastern Catholics prove this every year.

Read more at Catholic Exchange 

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