This past week, I spoke with my brother on the phone and I asked, with genuine curiosity, if his church did anything special for Lent. He currently attends a Church of Christ and very quickly snapped, "Lent?! That's a Catholic thing! We don't celebrate Lent."
Once again, we as Catholics are deeply blessed by Church Tradition. I'm still learning about the historical teachings of Lent, but already touched by the devotion toward this very special time as we remember the sufferings of our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Yesterday, as I sat in Mass, I thought of how much we need Lent. I was grateful for the time to meditate and "rend my heart" as we received the ashes. The responses were all focused on how we separated ourselves from God by sinning, and need to heed the call to for reconciliation. I spent the day partially fasting, according to our obligation. I felt a genuine sorrow and sobriety as I thought deeply about what Jesus went through - all so that I could be joined with Him for eternity. It was very humbling.
As I enter into Lent, I feel as though those who look at this as "just a Catholic thing," are really shortchanging themselves. It is so easy to get caught up with our busy, daily lives - barely giving any thought to this time of the year until it's Easter weekend. How awesome it is to have rituals and traditions that help ground us in our Christian faith, reminding us every year that Jesus Christ came to set the captive free but in order to do that, He had to take up His cross, suffer, and give up everything He had; including His fellowship with His heavenly Father. All for me. All for you.
I pray that this Lent will bring us closer to God and strengthen our resolve to not grieve His Spirit with sin.