...is that while it may not be “fun” it’s still “good” and good things should be celebrated.
Lent is a time for Catholics to imitate Jesus and follow him from the
garden of regular life to the desert of self-denial and sacrifice. Jesus
literally went to the desert in Mk 1:12-15 for forty days and forty
nights. Here he prayed, fasted, and was tempted by the devil. Afterward, he was hungry (Bible humor always cracks me up).
Jesus did this just before beginning his public ministry where he spoke
to the crowds, performed miracles, and eventually offered himself as a
sacrifice for all of us. The time in the desert was a time of
preparation for the work to come. If Jesus needed time out to pray and
fast, how much more do we need that time?
Lent was a time of
preparation for Jesus and it is for us as well. We prepare for the
institution of the Eucharist at the Last Supper which we celebrate on
Holy Thursday (the Thursday before Easter). As Jesus was hungry after
fasting, we are hungry for him and he doesn’t leave us empty.
Individuals coming into the Catholic Church use Lent as a final
preparation. Candidates have spent months learning about our faith and
on the Easter Vigil (Saturday before Easter) they will be baptized,
confirmed, and receive the Eucharist. Lent is a time of preparation of
our souls as we repent for our sins. We remember on Good Friday that it
was our sins that Jesus suffered and died for.
Lent is the
preparation of many things, and the crowning of them all is Easter
Sunday, when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the
Lent has been around since at least the fourth century
but the writings of that time indicate that the practice began with the
apostles. The customs from place to place and from time to time have
changed, and will continue to change, I imagine, but the basic idea of
denying ourselves to take up our crosses remains the same.
Without taking time out to re-orient ourselves, clean out the bad
habits, and step out of the world we run the risk of getting off course
without realizing it. This is yet another reason Catholics “celebrate”
Lent instead of “suffering” Lent.