By: Natalie Butler
Over Spring Break, I read a book called Men, Women, and the Mystery of Love by Edward Sri, which is more or less a modern interpretation for youth to understand the message Blessed Pope John Paul II was trying to convey in Love and Responsibility. There were many enlightening points; however, a few stuck out in light of the Lenten season.
In Lent, we are to give up something as a sacrifice, or so we have been told since we were little. We are supposed to give up chocolate or soda or TV for Lent, and we would be able to have these back on Easter. This is a little sacrifice we make compared to the self-giving sacrifice Christ made for us. Self-giving and sacrifice mean more than just giving up chocolate. Christ gave his own life, willingly, for you. Yes, you. We are to act like Christ during Lent to sacrifice the small things and to be self-giving in doing things for others. Lent is a season to fully reflect Christ in loving sacrifice and giving of you.
When I was little, I used to think love was almost selfish. We search our whole lives to find that special someone so we can be happy. Or we spend a great deal of our time developing friendships that get us through our every day struggles in life. No matter the form, everyone wants love in their life. That is not the case; love is a different essence entirely. Love is more giving then receiving. Love is about serving those around you willingly so to make their lives a little bit easier or more enjoyable. Love is about accepting the service as well. “It is in giving that we receive” as St. Francis’ famous saying goes. For example, the Eucharist is a way of receiving the love of Christ, but in return Christ also receives us. He welcomes us with all of our weaknesses, mistakes, sins, and burdens. He is waiting for us with open arms to embrace us with his love and his mercy so we can begin again to love and to serve as he did.
After reading this book, I started to look at my own Lenten journey so far this year. I realized that I was not putting forth the effort that I have in years past. I don’t know if it is because I am busier this semester or because I am just not really feeling it. However, I came to the realization that Christ did not really feel like getting crucified for our sins, but he knew it is what is to be fulfilled by God and he so loved his people that he wanted to save them. I, too, need to listen and to do God’s will. I am now shaping up and I have made more time for prayer and to do things for others. I am becoming more aware of the love and the mercy that God has showed me, and I am spending more time thanking Him for that blessing.
During Lent, shouldn’t we be a self-gift to others like Christ was and is for us? Shouldn’t we do more than sacrifice a simple thing like chocolate during Lent so Christ can receive us more fully? I challenge you to look at the different forms of love and of service that you have around you. Are you sacrificing your time to be present to those people? Are you giving a piece of yourself to them mirroring Christ to better their lives? I also challenge you to look at your Lenten promises. Are you giving up something for the correct intentions? Are you doing some extra prayer or service for others in so to transform your heart?