Knowledge, Self-Control, Endurance: On Lent

It’s the Lenten season again, which means a time for reflection and renewal. A time to let parts of us die so we can draw closer to Christ.

I’ve struggled a lot with what to do this Lenten season. I’m much busier than I had planned to be this spring, and I honestly worry that keeping to something particularly strict would be too hard and not in line with what I actually need.

Last year, I gave up ice cream and alcohol. A noble task and one that I’m proud my partner and I accomplished (having an accountability buddy certainly helped). While it was probably a healthy thing to do, I don’t know if it brought me closer to God. It pushed me as a person, but I don’t know that it pushed me in my relationship with Christ (though the two aren’t mutually exclusive).

This year, Pope Francis has declared it a year of an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy. We are called to revel in Christ’s extraordinary mercy on us, and seek to live that holy mercy in our everyday lives. It is only fitting that the reading for Ash Wednesday this year are the Beatitudes. The juxtaposition of those who are struck low now being brought high by Christ reminds us that there is always room within God’s mercy to be made whole again; life tends to trend towards an equilibrium.

For me, this means attempting to live compassionately towards others and towards myself. It is a reminder that in Christ is not just the compassion we hope to be brought, but what we should bring and seek within ourselves for others as well.

Since last year was a year of extreme physical sacrifice, I am going to try and live a compassionate life– towards others and myself. This Lent, I am going to seek moderation. I hope that, in learning to live a more balanced, tempered life, I can attempt to find a sustainable way to live with God at my center. As 2 Peter says:

For this very reason, you must make every effort to support your faith with goodness, and goodness with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with endurance, and endurance with godliness, and godliness with mutual affection, and mutual affection with love. For if these things are yours and are increasing among you, they keep you from being ineffective and unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

God reminds us that love isn’t just butterflies-in-the-belly, but flourishes in knowledgeable, self-control that helps us endure trials when the path is less than rosy. Love of all forms– towards each other, ourselves– isn’t always about the extremes. It’s also about the patience and ability to endure.

So, for Lent, I am going to do a  few things to try and live a more moderate life– around drinking, rest, and social media use.

I’m also making a conscious choice to keep these personal. I worry that some aspects of my faith have become for show, and want to try and keep somethings for myself (despite doing work and generally enjoying sharing about my life).

I hope the Lenten season pushes us all to be more compassionate and seek more of Christ’s understanding love in ourselves and each other.

One final thing: check out the Ignatian Solidarity Network’s Lenten journey for Racial Justice. I’m really excited to take part.

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