As Lent approaches, everyone is asking their kids, and deciding for themselves, “What are you going to ‘give up’ for Lent?”
Why am I putting “give up” in quotation marks?
“Give up” is in quotation marks because it is not the most appropriate term for the action that we perform during Lent. Instead, as Venerable Fulton J. Sheen said, we are exchanging one good for another (higher) good:
It is quite a wrong thing, therefore, to say that you “give up” something during Lent. Our Lord never asked us to give up anything; He asked us to exchange: “What exchange shall a man give for his soul?” When someone is in love with God, he finds that there are somethings (sic) he can get along without (his own pleasure), and something else he cannot get along without, namely, the peace of soul that comes from obeying God’s Will. So he exchanges the one for the other, surrenders the lesser good to gain a Kingdom. He makes such a series of profitable exchanges every day he lives. (Peace of Soul)
So, as we choose our Lenten penance, instead of asking ourselves, “What will I give up for Lent?” let’s ask ourselves, “What will I exchange for Lent?’
Instead of “giving up” chocolate, let’s “exchange” chocolate for money that we can put in the Poor Box.
Instead of “giving up” time on Facebook, let’s “exchange” that time for time spent with the Word of God, or praying the Liturgy of the Hours.
Instead of “giving up” popular music, let’s “exchange” it for Christian music, or Gregorian chant.
Because, ultimately, what is the reason we “exchange” chocolate for money that we can put in the Poor Box, or that we “exchange” that favorite TV show for quality time with the Word of God?
We make these “exchanges” because “nothing in all the world is worth a soul” (Sheen, Life of Christ).
That’s why we observe Lent. That’s why Our Lord spent forty days in the desert. That’s why He endured the Agony in the Garden, and the Scourging; the Crowning with Thorns, and the Carrying of the Cross. That’s why He died on that Cross for us.
Because the salvation of our souls was worth it.
Because we’re worth it.
God Love y’all!