Tag Archives: sacrifice

Lenten Sacrifice

Today is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the holy Christian season covering approximately six weeks until Easter.

During the Lenten season, Christians traditionally prepare for Easter through a process of increased prayer, penance, and sacrifice.

Of course, we are all supposed to be praying regularly, asking repentance and making atonement for our sins, and finding ways to sacrifice some part of our own blessings in the form of charity all during the year.

Lent is a good time to both get yourself back on track if you have let some of that spiritual responsibility slip, and also a good time to strengthen your commitment to areas of your life that perhaps need more attention.

To meet these increased spiritual goals during Lent, Christians often make what amount in the secular world to New Year resolution-type promises of change. Only these are promises to God from themselves. The promises can involve saying a daily rosary, returning to Church and the sacraments, and giving up something of importance to them.

That last part, the giving up of something important, is known as a Lenten sacrifice. Remember, the whole point is to prepare for the events of Good Friday and then Easter, when Jesus Christ sacrificed his own life for your sins. Keeping that much sacrifice in mind, how tough is your own?

Each year, I also try to make a Lenten sacrifice. I’ve usually had success in the past, but this year I am going a little more ambitious. I am personally building a number of elements into my Lenten sacrifice. Maybe one or more will inspire you as well.

First, I am actually simply going to continue a spiritual exercise which I began all the way back in November. At some point in mid-November of 2013, I began to say a full rosary each day. Somehow, I have been able to keep it up every day. I have found lately that there were a couple times where I almost just let it go. Lent will be a good time to increase my commitment to it.

Next, I am going to commit to going to Church more often. My own local St. Christopher’s Roman Catholic parish will be offering Mass on a nightly basis. I will be going a few times. I am also volunteering more in my role as a church Lector to do the readings at Mass during this period.

Also during Lent, I am going to make sure that I participate in appropriate sacraments more often. Most specifically, going to Confession, doing Penance, and sincerely attempting to stay away from the occasion of sin. I’m planning on making a Confession now, at the start of Lent, and again closer to Easter.

These things should go a long way towards meeting my goals of increased prayer and penance during Lent, and your own adoption of any would help you do the same. So now, on to the sacrifice part. What am I “giving up for Lent” this year?

First, we’ll start with the treats/goodies category. I will be giving up all cakes, cookies, pies, candy, ice cream, and other similar desserts and treats. Only exception will be for breath mints, which some might consider as “candy”, but which I slot into their own special category as someone who has a lot of dealings with the public.

Next, a bit tougher one thanks to specific circumstances. I will be giving up soda as well. However, I am giving myself a “special dispensation” on St. Patty’s Day weekend to allow for drinking soda at events surrounding that upcoming celebration. Better that than imbibe in too many “adult beverages”, especially when driving. Outside St. Patty’s weekend, no soda either.

Not just a “don’t do that” period, Lent is a time to “do”, to take action where it may be needed. I am going to begin seriously getting back into a regular physical workout routine. Starting with daily walking, and then building up to more as the Lenten season advances and I get in better physical conditioning.

And then I added on a new one this year, limiting my use of personal social media, particularly by refraining from Facebook, Twitter, and other forms of social media during the Lenten season with two exceptions only.

Those two social media exceptions will be this blog, where I will actually attempt to write MORE, something that I have been trying to get myself to do anyway. And also my professional Twitter account @PPDMattVeasey, where I have an expected responsibility to participate for my employer.

I have also undertaken a couple of more personal restrictions for Lent, and we’ll just keep those between me and the Lord at this point. Oh, and all of my fellow Catholics should remember to refrain from eating meat today, Ash Wednesday, and every Friday through Good Friday. Also, today and each Friday you should limit yourself to one full, large meal.

I think that if I can successfully accomplish all of that, it adds up to a solid, legitimate personal Lenten observance. Prayer, penance, and sacrifice all built into the plan. So, there’s my plan for Lent – what’s yours?

Lent: Still time to re-dedicate yourself

You’ve had two shots at it now. First came your ‘New Year Resolution’ to quit smoking, begin a diet, start exercising, read more, go back to school, end a damaging relationship, whatever. Then came Ash Wednesday, and with it the beginning of Lent, and yet another chance to give something up, this time sacrificially.

Okay, so maybe you’re 2010 batting average is suffering with an ‘0 for 2’ start to the year. Or maybe you wish that you had added some other item to your list of things to give up or begin as that new beginning or that sacrifice. Maybe you never made any resolution or made any Lenten sacrifice to begin with. It’s not too late to begin to dedicate yourself, or to re-dedicate yourself.

As for the idea of a resolution, it’s still very early in 2010. We just began March this past week. Almost 10 full months remain in the calendar year. There is plenty of time to make the positive changes to your life that you wanted to make, plenty of opportunity to make 2010 a different year than any other.

And as for a Lenten sacrifice, there is still a full month until Easter Sunday. If you ‘gave up’ something for Lent but then backslid or caved in to whatever the temptation, you can still make a statement that means something.
Whatever your vice, be it smoking, alcohol, dietary, sexual, habitual, giving it up as a sacrifice to the Lord for a full month is a legitimate sacrifice.

Remember what Lent really is all about. It is a time of voluntary self-denial, a time to reflect on that ultimate sacrifice that Jesus Christ is about to make for you as an individual. He is about to go through the process of being imprisoned, publicly mocked, tortured, and put to an agonizing death, all so that you might have an opportunity to have your sins forgiven and may earn a place in Heaven for eternity.

Whether it be something as mundane as giving up drinking soda beverages or something as sexually addicting as viewing pornography, your personal sacrifice can never equate to what Christ went through on your behalf. The important thing is to focus on making a sacrifice, and then doing your personal best to stay with it for a month.

And also remember that your attitude during this sacrificial period is important. It matters that you don’t pull out the “I Survived Lent” t-shirt on Easter Sunday morning and shovel a pile of jelly beans into your mouth. It is not enough to simply give something up, or make increased church donations, or whatever your sacrifice, but you should do so joyfully in the knowledge that God is recognizing your change.

If you began a period of sacrifice a few weeks back when Lent officially began, but fell off the wagon, get yourself right back up and get back on. There is a four weeks long journey ahead to Good Friday and Easter, and your slightly shortened time of sacrifice would be no less valid. It’s the idea of caring about it that matters. Don’t give up, there’s still time.

NOTE: this is the continuation of the regular ‘Sunday Sermon’ series, all entries of which can be enjoyed by clicking on that label below this entry at the http://www.mattveasey.com website

Joseph: A righteous man

He couldn’t have been happier with the way in which his life was finally turning out. A hard-working tradesman who plied his craft with the best of them, he had met a beautiful young girl and fallen in love at first sight.

Sure she was much younger than him, but he was determined to have her in his life. He continued to pursue her gently, and finally got up the courage to ask for her hand in marriage.

She was a very young girl, much younger than he was, yet she was in some ways wise beyond her years. She wasn’t completely sold on the man who was pursuing her affections, but her family was completely taken with him. After all, he was a hard worker who would absolutely be able to provide for their daughter. He was ruggedly handsome and possessed a maturity that told them the man would treat their daughter right.

So the young girl somewhat grudgingly entered into the engagement. The engagement period was going along smoothly until one night the young lady realized that she was pregnant.

By now you have figured out, in all likelihood, that this young woman was named Mary, and her fiancee was named Joseph. She learns of the pregnancy when an angel appears to her and announces to her that the child has been created by God through the Holy Spirit.

Now this creates many problems for the couple. How was anyone supposed to believe Mary when she revealed the news to her family that she was pregnant, and that she was to bear the Son of God from her womb?

Of course, no one would believe such an outlandish story. They would all believe that she had a secret affair going on with one of the young men from the area, or that perhaps she had been violated by a soldier.

Mary got up the courage to tell her story to her family, and almost immediately there was tremendous skepticism and antagonism. Her fiancee Joseph was crushed, though not embarrassed.

As described in the gospel of Matthew (1:19), he was “a righteous man”, and so decided to set their relationship aside in a quiet manner. He would make no accusations against her, and would bow out peacefully. Fact was, he still cared deeply for her.

That night, Joseph was awoken by the appearance of the same angel who had visited Mary. The angel said to him the following:

“Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

Joseph was a practical man, but this was no dream. It was not the manifestation of some meal that he had eaten that evening working on his digestive tract as he slept. It was not his conscience acting in a dream state due to his continued affections for Mary. He was very much aware that what he had experienced was real, and he was not about to question his God.

Joseph got out of bed, and began to do as the angel of the Lord had commanded. He took Mary into his home as his wife, and would forever after be a father to the Son of God in every way that is meant.

He had no relations with Mary until after she had bore the child, whom they faithfully named Jesus. He taught Jesus practical lessons in carpentry and in life, and Jesus grew up over the next couple of decades in his house.

The story of Joseph is a timeless one of commitment and sacrifice, and of faith. Joseph was under extreme pressure from the people and powers of this world to turn his back on the woman that he loved. He was considered a fool by some, a martyr by others. Yet he was actually neither of these.

What Joseph showed is that he was a man of God, a man who listened to what the Lord said and put that first in his life.We can all take a lesson from this righteous man as we move through life.

Many times we have been and will be called by God to do something, say something, act in a certain way, treat someone in some way. In responding we may be asked to make a sacrifice, or to go out on a limb, to leave our own comfort zone, perhaps even to embarrass ourselves. When that time comes, remember Joseph, the earthly father of our Lord.