As we savor the last morsels of Mardi Gras and lean into Ash Wednesday tomorrow, we probably have our Lenten goals set.
But goals can be tricky. It’s easy to treat Lent like a 40-day self-improvement course or round two for forgotten New Year’s resolutions. It’s easy to overanalyze whether our liturgical traditions measure up to another's. Even in holy-sounding pursuits, it’s easy to seek satisfaction first or give in to spiritual pride.
Simply put: it’s easy to make Lent about us.
What’s hard? Making it about Jesus. Shifting our focus from the what to the Who we’re called to do it all for.
Lent, sisters, is about love.
And love, in its purest form, requires sacrifice. Without sacrifice directed toward the good of another, what we do is simply centered on self.
Jesus Himself modeled this in His ultimate act of Love on the Cross, sacrificing every last drop of blood, every ounce of bodily comfort, every speck of personal dignity, all for our greater good.
If Christ’s sacrificial love is the cornerstone of Holy Week and Easter, then Lent, the great lead-up, is for a colossal exchange of love: our Beloved’s incredible sacrifice which begs a response from us in return.
Yes, Lent is a chance to intentionally respond in sacrifice-laden love to our Beloved Who first loved us.
Today’s Gospel spells out the truth that glory in the next life calls for sacrifice and suffering united to Christ in this life. Yet it also reminds us that in every genuine sacrifice, our God cannot be outdone in generosity. Like Peter, searching for consolation in Christ after having "given up everything to follow You" we can close our eyes and hear Jesus reply, "there is no one who has given up [all these things] for My sake . . . who will not receive a hundred times more" (Mark 10:28-29).
So whether we're giving up chocolate or Netflix or complaining, whether we want to start praying for the first time or add heaps more prayer—let’s strive to remember Him first, with love, in every little sacrifice.
Let's love well this Lent, sisters.
Take a glance through this Catholic encyclopedia entry on Lent.
Megan Hjelmstad is a wife and mom 24/7 and an Army Reservist in her “spare” time. She is the Stories Manager for the Blessed is She Instagram account. She’s a bibliophile, tea drinker, sleep lover, and avid admirer of Colorado’s great outdoors. When the writing bug hits, you can find out more about her here.