So here begins the forty days of sacrifice known as Lent. What is Lent exactly? Commonly referring to the forty days that preclude Easter, Lent exists as a sort of spiritual preparation for the celebration of the resurrection of Christ. I have pretty much always known as much, but it never really occurred to me why people give up things for Lent. I know a few people who give up things for the Lenten period without even being regular church goers or celebrating Easter publicly. Why do they do it? I suppose a lot has to do with tradition. Why have I followed Lenten practices all these years? Because it's just what you do.
When I began to think about why we sacrifice things during Lent, my immediate thought was a selfish reason- so that we consider it a "good deed" or "death to self" matter. That is not far from the truth, but I was missing the bigger picture.
The whole point of Lent is to spiritually prepare for Easter, as I have stated above. Easter is the most meaningful holiday on the Christian calendar; if Christ had not risen from the dead and put to death our debt with God Christianity would not exist. Our entire faith is wrapped up in the death and resurrection of Christ. That in itself commands a good amount of reflection. The fact that the celebration of Easter is so important calls us to be prepared spiritually for it so that we can attempt to grasp the full meaning of it when we come together to celebrate.
Where does the Lenten practice of sacrifice come into play? Prayer, reflection, and discipline are three highly important parts of spiritual prep. In order to put those into practice, self-sacrifice is necessary. Not saying that you must give up something in order to live your Lent to the fullest, but just in general we are called to die to ourselves in order to have a deeper relationship with God. Lent is a way to make a physical manifestation of that- of the sacrifice that the Christian faith requires.
That being said, what am I giving up? Funny faces.
Yes, you read that correctly the first time.
I am giving up my self-defense practice of screwing up my face in order to provoke laughter. My goofiness is used as an evasive tactic when I am feeling unsure of myself. As much as I try to live away from a spirit of fear, I find myself unintentionally putting up a front of happy-go-lucky so that people do not look any further than my cross-eyes and smushed-up mouth. As silly as it sounds, I am being completely serious. For Lent I am giving up the wall I've built around myself. Of course, my mom hopes that the lack of facial gestures will attract a nice guy that I might've run off previously. I don't have such hope nor do I want it!
Fr. William Saunders pretty much summed it all up on the Catholic Education website: Although the practices may have evolved over the centuries, the focus remains the same: to repent of sin, to renew our faith and to prepare to celebrate joyfully the mysteries of our salvation.
I hope I am able to use my sacrifice of funny faces for self-discipline during this time of preparation!