To top it off, we begin Lent in a week! Lent, that penitential season when we studiously examine our consciences, earnestly pray and study the our Faith, and seek to shore up our souls by making daily sacrifices.
February + Lent = grimness.
Or does it? Must Lent be grim? It shouldn't be. Just because it is a somber time in the Church calendar, it should not be sad or depressing or (I daresay!) ugly. No, Lent must have an element of joy to it.
Remember, dear readers, that happiness and joy are not the same. Happiness depends upon circumstances, and is fleeting ("I'm happy work is going well" or "I'm happy that we're having macaroni & cheese for dinner instead of tuna melts!") Joy is from God. It says, "All is well with my soul," regardless of what life throws at us. Joy is not fleeting; it is a state of the soul that must be nurtured, but a mature soul is always joyful in the Lord.
And so it must be in Lent. We bow our heads in prayer, we fast from treats (whether that is our favorite coffee brew, a television show we enjoy, or a habit that does us no good), we give alms. We rejoice that God is so good that He gave us His Son, and that the Son allows us to journey into the desert with him for 40 days. We are joyful that we have the entire Church as companions on this journey. Joy fills us, with the Eucharist, our food for this journey.
While winter may drag us down, Lent is here: Rejoice!