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When I woke up on Ash Wednesday, I thought I had my items to give UP for Lent. Some years I have elected to focus exclusively upon adding something like daily Mass to my life during Lent in a quest to grow closer in relationship with the Lord. Other years, it has been a food based sacrifice (like coffee for TWO years in a row) and other times it has been something else with a monetary tie (spending fast.) For this year, I had chosen my Lenten sacrifice to be a spending fast again in part because of needing to pay medical bills from my doctor visits regarding my being allergic to exercise.
Sitting in Mass on Ash Wednesday, I felt the stirrings of a need to revise that choice. While I am still going to do a spending fast, the focus is more upon making a conscious decision of whether something is truly a necessity along with using what we have on hand (especially our food stores.)
— Laura O’Neill (@LauraOinAK) February 22, 2015
What got my attention was a comment our pastor made in his homily about how sometimes the sacrifices chosen are not really a sacrifice. As a Catholic, I am asked to fast from meat on Ash Wednesday and every Friday during Lent. But, if I am eating crab or lobster for my meals, is it truly a sacrifice? The same can be said for giving up something that doesn’t feel like a sacrifice, like a kid saying he’ll give up eating green vegetables when he doesn’t really like them. Or someone who barely visits social media giving up Facebook for Lent*.
He continued to share the thought of adding something to our lives that may be a challenge or a bit uncomfortable, yet could lead to personal and spiritual growth. His suggestion was to have an increase in charity.
This is something that I want to ‘sink my teeth’ into during Lent. Charity is NOT exclusively tied with money, although many charities are in place where a donation can help others in need. Instead of just writing a check, we can be charitable in our interactions with others in our community.
Rather, we can consider how we act both in and out of our houses. When we go to Mass on Sunday, do we sprint out the door without taking time to talk with fellow parishioners? When we are busy running errands, do we quickly run in and out of facilities without engaging with the people around us whether with a smile or polite word? If you encounter a homeless person when walking down the street, do you ignore them as if they are a leper or just out for a free ride? At home, are we quick to be rude towards our family members rather than giving them the same consideration we would give to friends or co-workers?
Pope Francis is bringing attention to ways the Church can be charitable in our actions. His installment of a facility for the homeless to take a shower at the Vatican is just one such action that the Church can show charity. Footage on the media yesterday showed just how much of a physical and emotional difference it can be for the people who have benefited from the facility. At the heart of it is a concrete action by which the dignity of human life is reaffirmed.
While I know I won’t be doing anything on the same kind of scale, I am making a conscious choice to practice charity in my daily life whether in my home or in my community. Knowing that I am sinner and prone to bouts of selfishness, I expect to fumble and fall in this practice. But, if I can be pleasant towards others with my words and actions even a few more times a day than I do now, I can hope to establish better practice of charity in my life.
So, if you are still debating what Lenten sacrifice you are being called to make, it is not too late to make the choice to be more charitable in your life each day. Not only might you see positive effects in your life, but you never know what effect your smile and kind word might have upon that stranger to whom you offered them.
*Note ~ I do have several friends who give up Facebook every Lent. I think that’s another wonderful way to possibly refocus your life on the people around you. I’m not giving up Facebook as I do to much blog work on it, but I do like to take a day off here and there.
40 Days of Seeking Him Sampler
If you have been reading the blog for a while, then you might recall that this link up started in 2011 as a daily one. I didn’t always participate in the link up but have made an effort to do it as often as possible. We switched to a weekly link up format which means at least one anchor post per week here.
I decided to pull together a ‘sampler’ as a free ebook to subscribers. If you are already a subscriber, just open up a recent weekly newsletter and click over to the appropriate “subscriber only” page.
If you are not currently a subscriber, you can get your copy when you sign up.
Do you typically give something UP or add something TO your life during Lent?
Is charity a virtue that you feel called to practice more often in your life?
This post was originally published on Feb 19, 2015, as part of the Lent 2015 link up.
This year, I am joining Trish @ A House Upon the Rock in co-hosting the 40 Days of Seeking Him meme. The linky will be up each week so you can add in posts daily, weekly, or whenever you are able. The posts can be about anything related to Lent and preparing for Easter ~ crafts, food, devotions, music or reflections are all welcomed.
I hope that my readers will join us on the journey through Lent as we seek to grow closer to Christ. Christian bloggers are welcome to join us in the weekly link up with posts that they are writing to showcase activities or reflections taken during this Lenten journey. Visit Beginning the Journey ~ 40 Days of Seeking Him Lent 2015 to check out posts by me or other bloggers or add your own to the link up.