The Lent that costs us so much

Lent is sacrifice, sacrifice is love and love… is God

Reflection of light on image of Christ © Cathopic. Kiki Garcia

God’s love is everywhere, the problem is that we do not know how to see it, hear it, touch it, or find it. Much less thank you.

In these days, Lent begins, that cry from heaven that calls for Conversion through fasting, almsgiving, penance, and prayer. It is marked by Ash Wednesday, which this leap year, 2024, falls on none other than Valentine’s Day, February 14.

The date is providential, given that Saint Valentine – the patron saint of lovers – worked hard to teach Christians that marriage is based on dedication, sacrifice, and personal renunciation, not on convenience, fun, benefit, or fleeting happiness. This greatly irritated the Roman Emperor Claudius II who, to prevent Christians from receiving the sacrament of marriage and proliferating, decided to publicly flog the saint and then privately behead him.

Since the Church of Christ is called to spousal union with its redeemer, and following the directives of the Saint, Lent is nothing other than the acceptance of that part of the sacrifice, which every marriage must assume to be “one flesh” each one forgetting himself and giving himself completely to the other.

The Catholic Church, future wife of our Lord, for whom He gave His life to sanctify it, reminds us every year on these dates that if at any time we want to be part of those future “Marriage of the Lamb”, we must make personal sacrifices, fast, do penance, give alms and also, talk to our Father in Heaven. We must pray with faith – every day if possible – to demonstrate our commitment and in return, if we have deserved it, at the end of life receive the immense gift of the eternal Home.

The problem is that human beings flee from sacrifice. The vast majority of the time he understands it as a punishment because he does not fully understand that fasting, almsgiving and penance are demonstrations of love. Just as our Lord loved us to the extreme, giving himself for us on the Cross to restore us to Communion with the Father, we too must sacrifice ourselves so that He can take us back Home.

Because I love you Father, I try to keep my soul clean and not sin. Because I love you Father, today I will be as bread and water. Because I love you Father, I’m not going to smoke today. Because I love you Father, I am going to withdraw from the world for a few days and lock myself in some Spiritual Exercises to feel closer to You and pray in holy silence. Because I love you Father, I am going to help this person, even if he doesn’t know me. Because I love you Father, I talk to you every day, not just when I have difficulties.

The translation for those who find it difficult to understand is: because I love you, dad or mom, I take care of you when you are sick (and I don’t leave you alone). Because I love you son, I give up possible comforts and spend more time with you, or I sacrifice a vacation, or we go to see your grandparents so you can enjoy their love, even if they are 300 km away.

Because I love you son, although I can’t stand your father or mother, I renounce that personal well-being so that you can enjoy and know what a home is every day of your life. Because I feel sorry for him (I suffer with him), whoever I see begging on the street, I give him alms, or I buy him a sandwich, or I give him my time and I worry about his situation. Because I love you, Father in Heaven, I renounce “looking” at other attractive people who could endanger my Holy commitment of Marriage.

Love has no auspicious moment. Love is always and without looking at whom, which requires sacrifice because the vast majority of the time, comfort, laziness, false lassitude and even sloppiness (all temptations) prevent us from loving as our Lord tells us taught. We prefer well-being and well-being… it does not bring peace. Peace is given to us by Christ every time we take communion in Grace, do good, sacrifice ourselves and go to bed with a spotless and calm conscience, knowing that we have done a good job, the right thing.

When you are in low hours, do not doubt that you will be tempted to give up, and you will ask yourself: but… what the hell am I doing all this for? In the question, you have the answer. The enemy will not hesitate to put a thousand setbacks in your way, look for countless excuses and separate you from the decision to give Holy Lent to the Lord. Don’t get distracted because the bad guy will always be waiting and waiting to take advantage of an oversight and make you fall. The battle that is there, and we do not want to see, you suffer and fight in your flesh with the sacrifice, but it is spiritual and began millions of years ago.

Jesus spent 40 days in the desert, enduring temptations. How can we imitate it? Try spending an hour a week (or daily if possible) in silent prayer looking at Jesus in the tabernacle or in an Adoration chapel. Without any distraction, without book or rosary. Just you and the Lord. He will teach you to defeat the enemy, he will pacify your heart and return you to the path you feel tempted to abandon.

With God’s help, the greatest strength will be your will. Be honest with yourself and if you notice that you are faltering, pray. Pray with all your strength. Ask your Father in Heaven to strengthen you to peacefully accept his will in your life, whatever it may be. Ask him to support you to fulfill your Mission and, with his favor, to be able to give him a true Lent this year to later experience a holy Week.

Lent is sacrifice, sacrifice is love and love… is God.