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Can Lent be fun?

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Lent is a season of sacrifice, but it can be enjoyable too!

Let's be honest. Lent isn't the most fun season in the Liturgical year, but does it have to be that way? Let's talk about it! 

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By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
3/11/2022 (3 months ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Lent, fun, sacrifice, devotion, tips, ideas

LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Lent isn't the most fun season of the Liturgical year. That distinction goes to Advent, which most people now call "Christmas," and spend attending parties and shopping. Christmas lasts all of one day, instead of twelve, and is a day or gift giving and feasting. Aside from that, Easter lasts one day, and is likewise a day of feasting. 

No wonder Catholics don't enjoy Lent. They have the calendar all messed up! Not to mention their practice. 

We can blame the lack of catechesis and evangelization, as well as our modern, secular culture, with its twisted emphasis on material gain. Nonetheless, these seasons exist not only because there is a Biblical and Traditional basis for them, but because they come with enormous benefits when properly observed. 

In fact, they are really enjoyable! 

First, a note about the seasons. Everyone knows Lent is a season of the Liturgical year, spanning from Ash Wednesday to the Easter Vigil. Easter, follows and lasts until Pentecost. Meanwhile, Advent, which begins four Sundays before Christmas, and ends at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, is supposed to be a mini lent of its own. Christmas, the season of gift giving, merry-making and feasting, is supposed to last for twelve days beginning on Christmas and ending with the Feast of the Epiphany. 

But what about Lent? What can possibly make the toughest season of the Liturgical year better? 

Lent causes many Catholics to have mixed feelings. On the one hand, they enjoy comparing notes with each other, "what did you give up?" is a common question, and they often try really hard to attend Mass and keep up with their sacrifices. On the other hand, these sacrifices are often self-serving, such as exercising more or giving up sweets, to lose weight. It's more about personal struggle than anything else. This can deprive the faithful of some of the greatest rewards that come with the season. Personal struggle is fine, but with help from the Holy Spirit, we can often do better. 

Lent is supposed to be a season of cleansing. We are supposed to make more room for the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds by clearing out things that are in the way. We should set aside things that distract us from our practice of the faith, and make room for prayer and Mass. In addition, just like we do with any spring cleaning session, we should give away things we are giving up. Just as we may pass along clothes we no longer wear, or furniture we no longer use, we should pass along the money we save by skipping sweets. We should pass along time time we make by turning off the television or the gaming console. In other words, we need to turn our sacrifice into two things: space for the Holy Spirit in our hearts and minds, and giving to others. 

When we give, it should be cheerfully, we should accept nothing in return, not even expecting a thanks. Give anonymously if we can. And, we should combine our giving with prayer. We must also make sure what we give costs us in some way, so it can change us. If it does not cost us, it cannot change us. We should feel the sacrifice. No, not to the point of actual pain and long-term suffering, but prayerfully skipping lunch and giving the money away to a stranger, or donating it to the parish food bank are about right. 

What is especially important is that we also sacrifice our time in a way that brings joy to others. This is how we make Lent fun. 

Take an hour or a few each week to spend time with someone in your family or community who may be shut in, or who doesn't get many visitors. Help with a project or a chore. If you do not know someone, find someone. Fellow parishioners might also be able to direct you to a need in the community. 

Doing this will bring tremendous rewards, both in joy and wellbeing to both people. In fact, you may find it is so enjoyable, you will continue doing it long after Easter has passed! 

Lent can be fun if we let it be. It does not have to be all ashes and penance. If can also be giving and sharing joys, and growing in new ways, guided by the Holy Spirit. 

This season, see what more you can do to make your Lent truly special. 

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