When you get a hankering to talk or complain about what you gave up for Lent, replace that hankering by speaking the word of God. For all the times you would have done the activity that you gave up for Lent, replace it by reading the word of God. Christians should always be drawing closer to God. ~ Monica Johnson
“Misery loves company”. That is a saying that often fits us quite well. When we are miserable, we like to know that others are miserable as well. No one likes to suffer alone. When we adopt that attitude, we just make others miserable and are not really much good to them or ourselves.
Yet that is the way most people plod their way through the season of Lent: miserable.
When we choose to give up something or some action for Lent, it is supposed to be between us and God. It is not supposed to be something that is announced by our actions and mannerisms to the world around us. If that is the case, what we have chosen to do is not going to help us any. It often becomes a way to draw attention to ourselves.
Jesus reminded us of that in the Gospel that we use every year on Ash Wednesday: “When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you may not appear to be fasting, except to your Father who is hidden. And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.” (Mt 6:16-18)
What we do should be done for the love of God and the transformation of self without drawing any attention to ourselves. That is why the suggestion of Monica Johnson is such a good idea. When we would typically do something that we have given up for Lent, go the extra step to substitute that action with something positive: a good work, private prayer, spiritual reading, et cetera.
We gain a couple of things by doing that. First of all, we fulfill what we set out to do when we began Lent. Second, we effect a positive change in ourselves or for another. Third, we become an example to others so that they can better live their lives.
Misery loves company, that is true. We do not like to suffer alone. But joy loves company even more. When we are joyful and cheerfully live our lives of faith, we will positively affect those around us. Instead of making them miserable by our moroseness, we can make them happy and positive about their own lives.
FAITH ACTION: Look for opportunities to help others today as part of your Lenten practices.
Remember, Fridays of Lent are Days of Abstinence