“Exchange what can never satisfy you for the only thing that can.” ~ Wendy Speake
Lent is often seen as a season to sacrifice, to give things up. We have learned that we are supposed to do that in order to engage in mortification. Too often, however, people look at giving something up as a practice that is only necessary for the season. They do not see the challenge to change their lives and become a new creation. They view Lent as something that will end and, afterwards, they can “get on with their lives.”
That is true of one of the practices that we employ today, a Friday of Lent: abstinence from meat and meat products. Abstinence marks the Fridays of Lent as well as Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. This is because Friday is the day that Jesus died on the cross for you and for me. Abstinence used to mark a Catholic’s journey every Friday of the year. However, after the Second Vatican Council, Catholics were told that they were no longer required to abstain from meat on Fridays.
This was because, for many, abstinence was not much of a sacrifice and Fridays should take on a more sacrificial tone than other days. The Church instructed its faithful that we should engage in some form of penitential behavior on every Friday of the year. The vast majority of people never really heard that. All they heard was that they didn’t have to give up meat on Fridays anymore. When Lent is finished, remember this. Think about what you can do throughout the year.
The purpose of our mortification is to exchange what can never truly satisfy us with the only thing that can: God Himself. Too often, we place an emphasis on worldly things, experiences, and pleasures. We allow those to gratify us and forget that they are all temporal. They may be pleasant for a time; but, they are time-limited. Sooner or later, they will end and we will find ourselves without and empty.
Why is it we often fail to turn to the Lord to supply our needs? Truth be told, I think it’s our human pride. We like to do things and figure things out on our own. We do not like to be dependent upon others and rely on others to fulfill our wants and needs. We think that we should be able to do that all on our own.
In the process, we cut the Lord out of the picture. If we are not going to count on others, why count on Him? Why not just do it all ourselves? Why do we need Him? That is the constant chatter in the back of our minds and that temptation is put there by our ever-present enemy. The devil wants us to think that we can do it on our own and that we do not need the Lord.
When we rely on the prizes and glory of the world and fail to seek the things of God, we are putting ourselves in jeopardy. Lent challenges us to exchange the promises of the devil, which can never satisfy, with the promises of our loving God. He will satisfy all the longings of our soul and bring us home to Himself if we but allow.
FAITH ACTION: Ask God to help you find satisfaction in doing good for others today.
Remember: The Fridays of Lent are Days of Abstinence.