A question that many people ask at the beginning of Lent is “What did you give up for Lent?” When we were young it was common, indeed it was expected, that all of us would give up something for Lent. Once Ash Wednesday came round, all of us, no matter how young we were, were encouraged to make some small sacrifice by giving up something for the next forty days. Sugar was a popular choice and many of us never went back to it again. Today, the tradition of giving up something for Lent is not as strong as it was in the past, but the idea behind it is still a good one. Giving up something helps to develop a sense of discipline, it helps us to appreciate all that we have and it allows us to help the most needy in the world by contributing what we save to the Trocaire Lenten Campaign.
But of course you do not have to “give up” something if you do not want to. You might decide to “take up” something instead. Lent is about more than “giving up” drink or cigarettes or sweets – it’s about taking on a new commitment to our faith and trying to be more like Jesus in the way we live our lives. There are many ways in which we can journey with Jesus through these forty days, many ways in which we can make that extra little effort to be the person God wishes us to become. It is simply a matter of deciding how. To give up or to take up? The choice is ours! Fr John