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The Joy of Lent

Lent gets a bad rap - and yes, I'm guilty.

We think of Lent in terms of "giving up." That sounds so wimpy. "I'm going to give up...."

Lent should be about getting going! Get going on your faith life! Get going on your relationship with Christ! Get going on resolving family issues or thorny problems in yourself you've been ignoring too long! Get going to Mass! Get going!

It is good to abstain. It is good to make our very comfortable lives a little uncomfortable. But we shouldn't do it just to make ourselves unhappy. We should do it in a spirit of companionship with those who truly suffer: those who are ill, lonely, persecuted. Those who are mentally ill, socially isolated, spiritually dry. Don't just give up - make it count through prayerful abstinence.

There is a joy in Lent. No, it's not the joy of Easter. There is nothing to compare to the joy of the Risen Lord. The joy of Lent is a joy of suffering, and that is a hard joy to understand. It is the joy of knowing that our Lord and God - God Made Man - allows us a tiny glimpse of what His life, death and resurrection meant - that Paschal Mystery. We get to journey with Him as He moves towards the cross. We get to be his companions.

That is joy. That is the joy of Lent. Don't give up.

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