I’ve often thought of this season as “The Joyful Season of Lent.”
After all, Lent even comes with a built in happy day, Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday of Lent. But we don’t have to wait a month before we can enjoy some happiness during Lent. God made us to be happy NOW and in eternity.
There are, of course, somber and sober moments in life, so we cannot always be filled with bliss in this vale of tears. And Lent is, of course, a season of penance and sacrifice. But…
If you think about it, happiness is what Lent is all about.
I was just telling someone yesterday about the Greek adage, “Pathei Mathos” — learning (mathos) comes through experience/suffering (pathos). That was the ancient way of finding meaning in suffering. There is still something to be gained through this humanistic ethos.
We make sacrifices during Lent, because we have so much to gain. True happiness in this world cannot be found in gadgets, or in money, or pleasure, or honor, or power. These things actually hold us down, because to enjoy them, we either have to waste them or work hard to safeguard them. We end up spending ourselves in our efforts to maintain earthly pleasures.
This is not to say that we should not enjoy earthly pleasures, just that we should not put all our eggs in that basket. During lent, we practice detachment from those banal things and focus more on uniting ourselves to Christ, where our true joy resides.
We also learn (mathos) during this time, through experience of the Cross (pathos), that our suffering has greater value when we unite it to Christ. Our experiential knowledge of Christ gives deeper joy to the soul and it is a joy that cannot be taken from us.
That is why Lent should be a happy season, a time of spiritual joy on earth pointing toward the joy we will experience for all eternity in heaven. This means that Lent should not be a time of introversion, but a time of looking outward and forward — outward through our charitable works and almsgiving, forward as we prepare for Easter and our life with Christ in the life to come.
Thank you Biltrix for this post and all of your help to me yesterday. You summed it all up for me, right here. God Bless, SR
You are very welcome, SR. I’m so happy to see you back in blogging again. Prayers for you and your health. God bless!
Westminster Shorter Catechism (1646)
Q1: What is the chief end of man?
A: To glorify God and enjoy him forever.
That sums it up — we are made to be happy!
I loved this post, and never actually thought about Lent in this way. I liked your use of the word “detachment” in this sense. I talk to so many non-Christians who are puzzled about why people give up chocolate etc for Lent . . . although detachment is a term used by all faiths, around the Pacific NW is most often thought of in association with Buddhism. Explaining it this way is a great method to connect and bridge to other beliefs systems. A simple thing, but profound. People “get it” this way, and understanding is furthered.
There are a few thing that Christianity and Buddhism have in common, like detachment and compassion. Yet the purpose is different. For the Buddhist, detachment is the path to happiness, whereas for the Christian it is seen as a way to rid ourselves of things that distract us from the love of God.
Yes, everything about the purpose and underlying philosophy is different. Buddhism is a religion without God. Yet so much of it is adaptable to Christianity, and the actual experience and achieving of various values has several parallels. I particularly liked the use of shared terms, with some overlapping qualities, to build a bridge between folks here who absolutely DO NOT COMPREHEND Christianity at all, and in fact have a very negative stereotype of us.
Wait a sec: “true happiness in this world cannot be found in gadgets, or in money, or pleasure, or honor, or power”??
Well, there goes your future career as an Ad Agency executive, James! Politics is probably out, as well.
You’re right, and your post gives a wonderful perspective on how we can approach this season.
I was always taught (& I’ve always taught my sons) that we should be thankful for everything: the good and the bad, and try to learn and grow from both. Otherwise, we end up thinking of God as Santa, and our faith as a way to merely get more “stuff to make us happy”.
We become happier as a result of putting our faith into practice, but we shouldn’t practice our faith just to become “happy”.
Of course, the aim of our faith is to serve and glorify God, yet at the same time, this God intended for us to be happy. So one of the fruits of our faith in God should be joy even in the midst of trials. Thanks, JTR.
I think we’re saying the same thing, James, …but you worded it much better than I!
No surprise there…
The sadness of Lent is the crucifixion. The happiness is the resurrection. We cannot have one without the other.
God made us the way we are. So that we choose, He allowed us to be sinners. So that we could become perfect, He sacrificed His Son. If He loves us that much, then you are right! We have good cause to be happy.
Christians should evangelize through their joy. What we have is such a priceless gift and our outward disposition should reflect this to others. People should want what we have. If we are truly joyful, others will see that and seek it for themselves.