The idea of a Lenten sacrifice has deepened the longer I've been Catholic. Two years ago, I gave up sweets, because I know how much I looooooove them, and it was a real sacrifice. But last year, I decided to try a sacrifice that was also designed to bring me closer to Jesus. Giving up sweets doesn't inherently bring me closer to Jesus unless I stop to pray every time I would otherwise be grabbing a cookie. So last year I thought about OTHER things I really love (after sweets, I mean, because I do really, really, really love sweets). Sleep was next on the list. So I gave up some sleep. I started setting my alarm an hour earlier to make time in the morning to read scripture, pray, journal, and do other spiritual reading. It was so good for me that it has continued ever since. It has become a regular discipline.
Which brings us to this year. What is next on the list after sweets and sleep? Friends? My iPhone? What? Languishing in my wonderful bed one Saturday morning, looking over the stripes on my luscious plaid flannel sheets, I pledged undying love for my cozy bed. It is a sleep number bed, and I would be willing to do a commercial for it. It is like sleeping on a cloud. Ever since we bought it, all my back pain has been eradicated. I could go on and on but the point is, it is one of my favorite places to be. So this year, I'm giving my bed up for Lent.
I've read a lot of stories of the lives of saints over the past few years. And I am always intrigued by the "mortifications" that some of them performed. In my limited understanding, a mortification is something you do to voluntarily suffer. For Jesus, no other reason. To be like Him. To be closer to Him. Not because you have to, but because you want to. Maybe penance is involved, or maybe it's just a desire to know Him better. I expect I'll figure out a lot about this as the days of Lent go by.
My plan is to set an eggcrate bedroll on the floor with a sheet and a blanket. And my pillow. (I'm not ready to give up my pillow - that'll happen when I am MUCH more serious!) And before bed, instead of checking facebook or playing Words With Friends, I will read more of my "Treasury of Women Saints" compiled by Ronda De Sola Chervin and my newest app: "Not By Bread Alone - A Lenten App" which includes scriptural readings and a short devotional. Sounds great, huh? But then I have to go to sleep on that tiny thin layer between me and the hard floor. I am positive that many parts of my body will be numb every morning. So that's when I'll pray. I'll pray that Jesus will make me more like him, more willing to suffer. And I will SURELY pray for the countless men and women who sleep in much harsher conditions than I. I will still have climate control, pajamas, a pillow, and food in my tummy. So hopefully this will also compel me to give more during this season and into the future. Like I said, these Lenten sacrifices, when taken seriously, tend to extend well beyond Easter.
I will be journalling. And blogging. I hope you'll be reading, and praying, with me!
Here is the scripture I'm holding on to: "Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith; that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead." - Philippians 3:8-11 ......I can hardly align my little sacrifice with that of Paul or Jesus, obviously. But I look forward to seeing what meaning it will have.
Blessings to you this Lenten season. I pray you will draw closer to Jesus who suffered for you.