By Father Russ Mower
Special to The Texas Catholic
Last year, on Ash Wednesday, we had no idea that Lent would last for a year…at least that is how it seems to me. And given the choice, I would not have given up the things I have been asked to do without in the past year. I love to travel, and to eat a nice meal with friends at a restaurant, and to attend sporting events (Go Rangers!) But indeed, we have given these things up, or at least moderated them. We might say that we do this grudgingly because it is what our government demands of us, but down deep, we do this out of concern for our neighbors.
Perhaps, without really thinking about it, we give up some of the things we want out of a deep-rooted Christian love for our brothers and sisters. The purpose of fasting during Lent is to focus on our love for Christ, and His love for us. We fast from the pleasures of this world and feast on the knowledge that come Easter, we will celebrate as we remember our baptism and the resurrection of our Lord, the promise of new life in the heavenly kingdom. We do penance for the way we have acted and pray that we might do better.
Considering that we have been sort of fasting for the past year, what do we “give up” for Lent? Well, they haven’t taken chocolate or ice cream away from us, so there is always that, but this year let’s try to be more creative. For Lent, and hopefully after, I am going to give up whining about the things I have had to do without because of the pandemic. I am going to try to free myself from the bad habits I have picked up in the past year, trying to compensate for what was lost. Here are a few things that many of us can probably relate to and are worthy of fasting considerations: spending too much time on social media, making too many trips to fast food drive throughs, binge-watching on movie channels, and overspending while shopping online.
As churches closed during Lent last year, we have spent less time worshipping God and have filled that time with other things. This Lent commit to reclaiming that lost time for Jesus. Parishes are open, albeit at a reduced capacity, so come back home when you are comfortable. If the thought of attending Sunday Mass concerns you, try a less crowded daily Mass. Come to Reconciliation, where social distancing is easily accomplished. Spend some time with our Lord by yourself in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. Make it your goal this Lent to reconnect with the one who loves you most.
Father Russ Mower is pastor of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Catholic Church in Oak Cliff.