First of all, don’t feel so bad about sneaking in a little donut. After all, it’s just a donut, not the end of the word.
Here, watch this video to cheer yourself up. Then read on for some hints that might make your Lent a little easier (okay, it’s not supposed to be easy, but it can be easier… Just watch the video)
There… Feel better?
Good! Now, let’s return to the basics. What’s Lent all about?
To begin with, Lent has nothing — nothing at all — to do with chocolate donuts. So forget about that sacrifice for a moment and let’s focus on the more important sacrifice, I mean the Sacrifice.
It’s about Christ’s sacrifice on the cross for you. It’s good that you are making a sacrifice, because there’s merit in that if your focus is more on his sacrifice than on yours. If you break down and eat a donut, no problem. God is faithful. His sacrifice is eternal.
Your small sacrifice is significant not now when you just want to prove you can stop eating donuts for 40 days, but when you are faithful to him.
Lent is about growing in our faith, growing closer to God, and getting ready spiritually for the Lord’s Passion on Good Friday. If you can do that well, you’ll get quite a charge on Easter Sunday. Trust me.
And here’s the best thing: You can get the full payback out of Lent even if you nab a few donuts on the side every once and a while. Here’s how.
The secret consists in uniting yourself with Christ by doing the three things the Church recommends during Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
Do these three things well and I’ll let you have your chocolate donut.
- Prayer. If you don’t pray that often, pray a little more during Lent. Just say some simple prayers each day or learn some new prayers. If one day you forget to pray, tell God, “I’m sorry.” And guess what: You just prayed. Mission accomplished (easy, right?). If you already pray often, Lent is an opportunity to grow in your prayer. We can always grow in prayer, because we are not perfect and Lent should remind us of that. After all, if we were perfect, Christ’s sacrifice would not make sense, right? Make that a part of your prayer.
- Fasting. There are two fasts built into Lent on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. It is important to keep those fasts. You can add to that by giving up chocolate donuts if you want or not snacking between meals, but the important thing is not to be a tough guy about it. When you feel the pinch of hunger, you should be reminded of how weak you are — we feel weak when we need food. That’s good during Lent. Christ felt week on the cross. He experienced that for us. So just denying yourself a little food until you feel like you’ve just got to eat something is a way of uniting yourself with Christ. Try it. Prolong it as long as you want, and when you’ve experienced enough hunger, remember Christ’s suffering (that’s a prayer by the way), then go have a donut.
- Almsgiving. There’s a good sacrifice: remembering that there are people less fortunate than yourself and giving up some of your means for them. Almsgiving is not just restricted to money. Hungry people also need clothing and food. You can pull some of your canned goods out of the pantry or old clothes out of the closet and drop them off at a homeless shelter (which is also a sacrifice of your time). Last year I went on a midnight run to a homeless shelter in Manhattan. I’m glad I did it and I would recommend it to anyone who has not done it before. I won’t talk about my experience here — find out for yourself.
Those are the basics. You don’t have to do a lot, unless you really want to. Once again, the important thing is not how well we keep our resolutions, but what we can learn from them about ourselves, others, and God.
It is also recommendable to give something up during lent. If you do, you should keep these things in mind.
- One of the reasons we make sacrifices during lent is to help us focus less on ourselves and more on God and on others
- Breaking a sacrifice is not a sin. In fact it can serve as a reminder that we’re just week human beings who need God
- Lenten sacrifices are means to unite ourselves more to Christ on Good Friday when he sacrificed himself for us
- It’s not about will power. It’s about love. Offer the sacrifice for someone else and to grow closer to God
- If we break our sacrifice one day, we should not get discouraged but try again tomorrow
- If a sacrifice turns out too hard to keep, we still gain important self-knowledge
- Christ fell three times carrying his cross. He also got up again. You can too
An important reminder:
- Abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday
- Fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday
- The Fast means only one full meal on those days
- The other two meals should be light
- Avoid snacks
- Drink all the water you want
- Finally, Cheer Up! Jesus Loves You 🙂 !
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