Let me preface this by saying I am not Catholic. I was raised with a Catholic influence, but I am not Catholic. However, that doesn't mean that there aren't certain aspects of the Catholic faith that I don't admire. While Lent is the pre-Easter season for Christians, I think Lent has a more special meaning for Catholics. My understanding is that starting on Ash Wednesday, Catholics vow to give up something (anything from chocolate to lifestyle changes to very specific sins) to commemorate and imitate Jesus' period of fasting. I can't say that I knew too many people that adhered to their resolve to abstain from certain things after the Lenten season (which makes me wonder), because my understanding is that habits are formed within three weeks.
That being said, let me impart my thoughts on Lent and why I love the Lenten season, should you care to listen. Along with the self-discipline Lent is supposed to have us as Christians aspire to, I believe that you should fast or abstain from something that will ultimately make you a better person. On my part, I'm fasting from two things: one to help my body, and one to help my soul. This Lenten season I am giving up simple carbs, like excess sugars (except for my coffee and tea sugar/honey), starchy foods (like potatoes and corn), and your white processed foods (like bread, tortillas, pasta, and other "white" wheat products). I would give up artificial sweeteners as they're practically toxic to your body, but I don't partake of those, save a very rare tasting of stevia. Sugars are bad for your system in general - they age you, create addictions, enhances cravings, cause sleep problems, increase LDL and tryglicerides, and wreak all sorts of havoc on your organs! My hope is not to eliminate sugar from my diet completely, but to hit the reset button on my system and have a fresh start after Easter to reintroduce them to my body in restricted moderation.
For my soul, I've decided to give up detrimentally criticizing and judging others. We've all heard the belittling "Judge not lest ye be judged" bit, but this is what the Bible actually says in Matthew 7:1-3 (NIV):
|1 Do not judge, or you too will be judged. 2 For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. 3 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother's eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?|
We, as Christians, should be called to uplift other people, and not to tear them down. I've heard and read it a number of times, varying slightly, that you should not judge other people for you know not what storms they've weathered. So person driving erratically on the road, while I may yell at you because you're putting my children's lives in danger AND you're talking on your phone, this Lenten season, I will not judge you because there may be a family emergency I know nothing about. I've been there, recently I may add. And person whose lifestyle and choices I 100% completely disagree with, I will give you a 40-day break from my criticizing, because this is a step up from where you used to be, and I don't want to bring you down again.
This is a tall order, but Lent is a time in which you rigorously adhere to self-discipline, and I think with a lot of prayer, this will be a good thing for me. If you haven't already decided on your course of action this Lenten season, Catholic or not (and yes, please don't correct me as I know other sects of Christianity also celebrate Lent for what it is), I would encourage you to please look in your heart and find something in yourself that you can give up for the betterment of not only yourself, but to anyone who will be blessed to cross your path. Good luck and a lovely Fat Tuesday to you!