I attended Catholic schools growing up and year after year the importance of Lent was shared with me and my peers. At school, home, and church these messages of Jesus’ greatest sacrifice began to influence my religious journey. In the Catholic church, it is common for people to give up something for Lent to signify Jesus fasting for forty days and forty nights that is written about in Matthew 4:2. Another common practice in the Catholic church is to only eat two meals on Friday, with none of the meals containing meat.
Growing up, it was a competition in the classroom to see who could give up what and who could last the longest throughout Lent. It can be tempting to say “I want to give up chocolate” or “I want to give up junk food” and these were common decisions made by my elementary classmates. Thinking back upon those days, I realize much of our competition and discussion in school became solely about us and less about the sacrifice of Jesus. Reflecting back upon my elementary school days, this year, I choose to give up chocolate again except with a new intention! I have added a small devotion twice a week, which helps me center my thoughts less about my cravings for chocolate and more towards Jesus’ love for me.
On a more hilarious note: in second grade (still in Catholic schools) I tried to give up school for Lent…that didn’t settle well with my teacher, my principal, my mom, or the priest at our church.