“There are three elements that are almost always part of Lent: prayer, giving something up, and giving something back.” ~ Elizabeth Hyndman
For a period of time quite a while ago, the leadership of the diocese would often encourage the priests to put money away for their retirement. They would tell us that the security in our retirement was on a three-legged stool. One of the legs was our pension, one leg was social security, and the third leg was savings and investments. We were told that if any of those legs were missing, the stool would topple. It was a not-so-subtle way to remind us that our pension alone would not be enough for us and that we needed to plan for our future accordingly.
In that same vein, we are reminded today that the three-legged stool of Lent is prayer, giving something up, and giving something back. If there are only two legs, our Lenten stool will topple and we will fall. If our Lent is going to have any value to us at all, we need to engage in all three. Prayer, of course, underlies the other two. Giving something up makes no sense if we do not give something back in terms of service to others.
If all we do is pray and give things up, we are focusing too much on self and we topple. If we give things up and give to others but do not ground ourselves in prayer, we will topple. If we pray and give to others but do not mortify ourselves, we, well, you get the picture.
The three-legged stool is an appropriate image of our Lenten journey. See to it that your stool is solid so that you do not topple on your way to Easter.
FAITH ACTION: Make sure that your Lenten resolutions are balanced and include all three elements of Lent.