Today is Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lent season for many religions that celebrate it. I know many are trying to get “creative” about what they are giving up during Lent season. So let’s do a quick review on what Lent season really is and why people are giving up stuff during this time.
Lent Season represents a time of preparation prior to the Easter celebration. It lasts 40 days to represent the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert fasting. It begins with Ash Wednesday which is a reminder of our mortality, and it ends on Good Friday. During this time of preparation people are suggested to perform soul cleansing acts such as praying, repentance of sins or confession, fasting, almsgiving among other things. Lent is a penitential season which is why many people decide to give up something they enjoy during lent season.
So what you should give up during Lent season? Well, that of course is a very personal choice. Some of the things I’ve heard people giving up for lent are: animal meat, red meat, alcohol, coffee, sweets (think cookies, cake, ice cream), sugar, eating out. Those were the “common” things for a long time, but in this society that is ran by technology we have now added to that list things like Netflix, social media, phone time (limiting using your phone for calling and texting only as absolutely necessary). And as the list is quite all over the place, people also choose and pick to give up things only on certain days during Lent. For instance, growing up we never had red meat on Fridays during Lent season. A few years ago, a good friend up gave up alcohol but only Monday through Friday during Lent season. To each its own, right? So back to my original question, should you give something up? Well, that is totally up to you but last year I stopped giving up on things during Lent. How so? Oh just you wait 🙂
I was reading about Lent season and giving things up last year and I ran into an article from a Catholic priest and totally resonated with me. The Father pointed out that Lent season is surely a penitential time but is also an almsgiving time. I don’t think I ever looked at this season from that point view until last year. I personally think we should always strike for balance for those things than can go from a special treat to an unhealthy poison, like alcohol and ice cream. People tend to keep an eye out for these during Lent because they become comfort foods and bring us joy so it makes sense to cut them off when we are striving for penance; feels soul cleaning. But a clean soul is a giving soul. So why skip your daily coffee for 40 days when instead you can look for ways to give to those in need. Helping those in need doesn’t always require you to cash out, though if it is within your means then why not. There are many ways you can help, and there are many people out there looking for help. So I encourage you to do some research and get involved locally in efforts that will bring your soul joy and also a cleanse.
It doesn’t have to be one or the other, you can do it all. Spirituality is a very personal thing and only you know how much you want to do or give to get your spirit a boost. I just wanted to point this out to in the odd chances you were like me. I personally find giving soul boosting and I am all in for that. Wish you all a blessed Lent season.
Mama Bear Kim