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Lenten sacrifice doesn’t go my way

March 24th, 2011

One of the songs Frank Sinatra is most remembered for singing is “My Way.” A reflective tune that recalls a man’s life, and through all the ups and downs he says, “I did it my way.” Apparently Frank had something wrong when it comes to choosing a Lenten sacrifice.

When I was home for spring break, I went to mass the Sunday before Ash Wednesday undecided on what my Lenten sacrifice would be. I have gone through the Lenten classics, giving up sweets, pop, swearing, meat, certain TV channels and bread.

Sitting in the pew, the priest started talking about how we usually do the same things year after year, and we end up doing Lent our way but not God’s way. We should pray to God and ask what he wants us to give up.

Well, carrying around my Catholic guilt, I couldn’t pick something unless I prayed about it. What did God tell me? He told me the hardest thing I might ever have to give up…Facebook.

Now I am not trying to be like the prophets moaning and complaining, but I think it’s important to realize how often we look at this time of year as torturous and not as an invitation.

Giving up Facebook has not just been a sacrifice, but an invitation for me to spend more time with God. I used to spend hours, more than I would like to admit, on Facebook, and now that time is free.

At first I filled it by going on other Internet sites, which was really counterproductive. Until someone recommended a spiritual website with daily readings and reflections, and the tab that used to be Facebook on my Mac screen is now the sacredspace website.

Lenten sacrifices often become an extension of our New Year’s resolution that we failed at on week two. When we ask God for his guidance, though, it can become a tool to not only improve ourselves physically, but spiritually.

It doesn’t become about our suffering, but about the growth and strength in our relationship with God.

When I went to a funeral of a good family friend this past year, in the eulogy they talked about how the man who passed was not spiritual, but every Lent he would wash all the windows of his house on Good Friday … the thing he hated most.

Our sacrifices define us as much as our successes, so even if you haven’t chosen something yet it is not too late. There are a couple things you must do.

1) Pray about it. I challenged my mom, who has given up sweets for the past twenty plus years, to do this and she discovered God called her to do more.

2) When you pray about it, ask not what God wants you to give up, but what God wants for you. Does God want to be closer to you? More of your time, talents, voice, effort? Sometimes giving things up means doing things we might not normally do as well.

Even though I currently have over 30 notifications waiting for me to reveal on Facebook so far, I think it will be worth it in the end.

Sinatra might have made a hit off of “My Way,” but I think I’ll change my life, and start doing it God’s way.