Dear Pope Francis,
As I’m sure you know, Lent begins on Wednesday. For the last number of years, I’ve struggled to decide what to do for Lent, as though preparing for Easter was something I could simply check off my do to list:. Okay, I’ll give up chocolate/all junk food/Facebook/some other bad habit, because these things really aren’t good for me anyway, so I should probably detach from them for a while. Except, I know deep down, that my logic really doesn’t get me to the heart of what fasting and abstaining in Lent is really about.
Lent isn’t simply a time to give something up, especially if it’s something that I’ve become too attached too, and should cut back on regardless (like my Facebook time, with the end of the semester fast approaching!). Rather, it’s a time when I can give up something that I really enjoy, that I abstain from for no other reason than I choose to abstain from it. So, I shouldn’t use Lent as an excuse to give up Facebook since it happens to coincide with the end of the semester and I shouldn’t be on Facebook that much anyway.
Realizing this didn’t answer my question about what to do for Lent, it just helped eliminate a few things since giving them up wouldn’t really be for the right reasons. I read a list with suggestions of things to give up for Lent. It was a good list, but nothing seemed to be a true sacrifice for me, that I could do and really feel like I was preparing for Easter. As I reflected more, I realized that whatever it was I chose to do, it needed to be something personal; something that would be a true sacrifice for me.
Ultimately, for Lent this year, I decided that I am going to stop lazing around in bed in the morning before I get up. I’m not sleeping during this time; I’m just lying down, choosing not to get up right away. I’ll replace the lazing about with l prayer (which used to be something I did regularly, but stopped). While I enjoy being able to laze around in bed, I don’t actually need it, and I’ll be able to make the sacrifice for God in a very tangible way by spending that time in prayer instead.
Pope Francis, you like challenging people, and in that spirit, I challenge the readers of Letter’s to the Pope to spend some time in the next couple of days seriously reflecting on what they can do for Lent. Don’t worry about what other people are going to say about it, make it meaningful for your spiritual life, so that you can grow in holiness during this season.