Lent once again. Young people are abuzz talking about “giving up this” and “giving up that” in rather typical Catholic fashion.
We know that prayer, fasting, and almsgiving are on the agenda for the season. But why even? It’s not like doing these things is going to make God love us any more than God already does. So why should young people even bother?
As far as we know, it’s just Lenten tradition. Well, while praying, fasting, and giving alms won’t inspire God to love us any more, we do them not to make God love us, but because He already loves us. In that same vein, doing these things inspires love for God in our own selves as well as in others.
Prayer is our lifeline to God. In the same way that we ought to be nurturing our relationships, such as with a love interest, through communication, time spent, and the like, we should be nurturing our relationship with God, our most beloved interest, even more so.
Prayer doesn’t always have to be these eloquent words and poetic phrases. Sometimes prayer can be simple, like spending some quiet time in nature with our Creator, or surrendering our hearts to the Father, Son, and Spirit, even if we have no words to describe it. No matter how we pray, however simply or however elaborately, let’s make sure to pray this Lent.
Our ancestors didn’t fast from food for fasting sake. They fasted so others could eat. In the same way, when we fast, let’s make sure we’re not romanticising the idea of suffering just to say that we are, in fact, suffering, but rather that we’re making a sacrifice toward a greater cause.
The money that we might not spend on two doubles with slight pepper on Monday morning, we could put towards a charitable cause, such as feeding someone in need, or pooling our money with our loved ones and buying a device for a school child in need during this pandemic.
This Lent, let us make sure to fast for a greater purpose. This brings us to the third thing on our mission: almsgiving.
Just like we heard in the gospel reading on Ash Wednesday, we could do without the selfies for the ‘gram’ when giving alms. Yes, the word “selfie” was in the gospel reading; go see for yourself.
God knows our hearts, and as the younger members of the Body of Christ, we’re called to be Jesus’ presence in the world today. Through our charitable works, and not just handing money to the vagrant without as much as eye contact, but rather concretely engaging with the poor, our vulnerable and uncared for sisters and brothers in our Body of Christ, we continue Christ’s healing and inspirational work that He started 2,000 years ago.
When we give alms this Lent, be it our time or money, let us make sure to continue Christ’s healing work in our lives and the lives of others.
Lent may have typically been for us something we did because it was “the Catholic thing to do.” However, this Lent may we start expanding our understanding of this blessed season in new ways.
May we live this season in this spirit of faith, hope, and love so that we don’t simply associate Lent with giving things up, pointless suffering, and self-denial, but rather taking on new meaning in our own lives of what it truly means to be a Catholic Christian in the Body of Christ.
As young people let us show God, and more so ourselves, how deep our love for God runs, and how much we appreciate Christ’s sacrifice for us this Lent.
—Office of Youth Ministry