Well, here we are, a week into the season of Lent, the forty days we spend in preparation for Holy Week and Easter—the time of Christ’s Passion, Death, and Resurrection.
This long period of time is what we endure as a symbol and reliving of the forty days and nights Jesus spent in the desert before He began His public ministry. During this time, He neither ate nor drank, and was tempted by Satan (spoiler: He didn’t succumb to temptation, because He’s God and He’s awesome).
This season of Lent is a time for us to spiritually “go into the desert” like Jesus, and to experience a sort of spiritual dryness.
As icky as it sounds, we really need this time in the desert. Since there is a season for everything, there is, in fact, a season for spiritual dryness; and one of the reasons it’s so important for us to experience this every year is because only then can we really enjoy the seasons of spiritual prosperity.
The three ways we live out our faith during Lent are through fasting, prayer, and almsgiving.
Fasting means abstaining from a physical and/or spiritual pleasure, comfort, or crutch. Some people will fast from a particular kind of food or drink they really enjoy; others will fast from watching TV or from social media use; still others will fast from things like anger, fear, or procrastination.
With all fasting, there must be a supplement in prayer, so that our intent is honorable and true. For example, while a person may fast from alcohol, they may also devote an hour every week to visiting Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament. Through this supplementation, we are not only removing vices from our lives, but also filling the space those vices used to occupy with a deeper love and appreciation for our God.
Almsgiving is often referred to as “a witness of fraternal charity”. This means that we give our time, our love, and our goods to others who need them. We can do this through donating money to our church or giving food to a local homeless shelter; we can do it through spending quality time with the sick and the elderly; or we can do it simply by paying for a stranger’s coffee.
All the time and effort we put into actively loving others helps to build God’s kingdom on earth, and Lent is the perfect time to amp up our fraternal charity skills.
As we continue through this season, we will undoubtedly be faced with many struggles and temptations. But when the going gets tough, remember that Jesus endured forty days and nights of extreme fasting and prayer in order to prepare for us; so let us prepare for Him with loving and steadfast hearts.
Sara Engle is a senior at Oregon State University and an avid musician. She enjoys writing and more of her work can be found on her blog at sarbearspeculations.com. Sara currently serves on the Alpha team at the Newman Center, walking beside students as they seek to uncover the beauty within Christianity.