Yesterday was Ash Wednesday for many Christians. Ash Wednesday is the start of the Lenten season which ends on Easter. Many Catholics and non-catholics fast on Ash Wednesday and on Fridays during Lent. Another thing many people do is give something up for Lent. I’ve tried to do it every year. I usually give something up like junk food. This year I was thinking about giving up beer and I even mentioned it to my wife but she started telling me that adults during Lent, should try to do something to help others and not just give up something like candy. While researching this post I stumbled upon an article from Time, Pope Francis’ Guide to Lent, written by Christopher J. Hale. This article is about Pope Francis talking about Lent and his belief is similar to what my wife said. In his address he quoted John Chrysostom:
“No act of virtue can be great if it is not followed by advantage for others. So, no matter how much time you spend fasting, no matter how much you sleep on a hard floor and eat ashes and sigh continually, if you do no good to others, you do nothing great.” – John Chrysostom
This really shoots down my idea of giving up beer and concentrating on my half marathon training. Does it matter that I’m running the half marathon for charity? Maybe it does but I should probably stretch myself and think of something I can do to help others during Lent.
I really like the second to the last paragraph of Time’s article. I think it sums up what I need to consider during Lent.
“What are you giving up for Lent?” It’s a question a lot of people will get these next few days. If you want to change your body, perhaps alcohol and candy is the way to go. But if you want to change your heart, a harder fast is needed. This narrow road is gritty, but it isn’t sterile. It will make room in ourselves to experience a love that can make us whole and set us free. – Christopher J. Hale
What am I giving up for Lent? Maybe nothing.
Instead I should try helping someone else.