Every year at this time we hear people asking what we are “giving up for Lent”. This recalls an older spirituality that associated the forty days leading up to Easter as a time of penance and self-denial, a time to consider our sinful ways in order that we might amend our lives.
Self-denial can be a useful tool to bring balance back into our lives, especially if there are areas of excess we need to curb, like eating or drinking or television watching or any activity that has become habitual and therefore a possible distraction from our spiritual path.
But sometimes “taking something on for Lent” can be a better approach, reminding us that ultimately we live for God and for others and that, if our lives have become too self-serving, a little outreach to others can be what we need. So some people use the Lenten season to make contributions of time or money to a cause that is important to them.
Another approach is simply to take time to reflect upon the state of our soul and our spiritual journey. This is done through intentional reading, spiritual “check-ups” with a trusted friend or mentor, and through private prayer and public worship.
In each case the point is to redirect our energies back to God our Creator, especially where we may have gone off track, to refresh our souls with the love of Christ our Saviour, and to make ourselves available for the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit.