I know, probably most of you are sending die, evil woman, die! looks at your computer screen right now. I’m ahead of the game, but I have a good reason. I think Lent is the great misunderstood season, and it is possible to approach it with joy–as perhaps you can tell from the image to the right. Today I’d like to share a short excerpt from my new book, Bring Lent to Life, and…I’m hosting my very first giveaway! So let me begin by asking: have you thought about “what you want to give up for Lent”? Read on!
The problem with simply giving something up is what I call the Mardi Gras syndrome: You’re sacrificing sweets for Lent, so the day before Ash Wednesday you have four bowls of ice cream. (There’s a reason it’s called “fat Tuesday.”) And on Easter Sunday you celebrate the end of the fast with two chocolate bunnies, a couple dozen handfuls of jelly beans, three slices of pie, and a cinnamon roll.
Kind of misses the point of the fast, don’t you think?
Fasting should change us in some way–move us to a place of greater holiness. It shouldn’t be something we do to torment ourselves for a while, only to revert to our former selves when it’s all over.
I believe it’s time to think beyond the ordinary Lenten penance. Why not give up a specific sin instead? In many ways, sin is a habit, a pattern of behavior. Selfishness, irritability, unkind words, gossip, gluttony–each of us struggles with the same sins again and again. Instead of choosing a specific item to forgo, why not choose one sin particularly troublesome to you and spend Lent focused on breaking its power over you?
This can be a great exercise for kids too, although they may need help, and that help must be given carefully. It’s important that we, the parents, not tell children what sins we think they need to address. True conversion happens from the inside out; it cannot be imposed by authority, however loving.
Penance, when heartfelt, is frequently a very private action and very difficult for people to share, even with those closest to them. Respect this. If a child is unwilling to share what he or she is giving up, that’s OK. As a parent, it’s tempting to feel that we must know everything our children are up to. But it’s also possible that a child (especially in the teen years) may want to be free of a habitual sin but is too afraid to admit it to his or her parents for fear of punishment. If your children are sincere enough to choose to work on something for Lent, rejoice, and allow them the freedom to make good choices of their own volition.
Okay, folks, it’s time for a book giveaway! If you like what you see, leave a comment here between now and Feb. 5th and be entered to win a signed copy of Bring Lent to Life!
For extra entries, help me spread the word! Mention Bring Lent to Life on Twitter or Facebook (and mention me so I know about it!–Facebook: Kathleen M. Basi, Twitter: @kathleenmbasi). Better yet, refer people to this post. For each one you’ll get an additional entry. For every day you tweet or FB it, you get additional entries. On Feb. 6th my lovely little ones and I will do an old-fashioned, low-tech drawing and announce a winner.
Any questions? If not–go!