Tomorrow is the beginning of Lent, forty days before the Resurrection of Christ. The Church, which is the people of God, which is made up of you and me, we use this time to prepare ourselves for Easter. Very often that preparation consists of what can I give up? The concept is correct, but sometimes for all the wrong reasons. We, I know I do, often look at this, as a time to make ourselves miserable. Let’s see, I can give up chocolate… I love chocolate. I will deny myself a second helping… I need to lose weight, anyway. I will watch less TV… I can read instead.

The concept of Lent is denial; that is true. But the emphasis is in order to get ready for the Resurrection of Jesus, we must die to ourselves. This is a time of preparation. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, a day when Christian Catholics have the ashes from last year’s Palm Sunday placed on our foreheads. With this action the words are said, “Remember man that you are dust and unto dust you will return.” It may seem morbid, but really it is a reminder that now is the time to think about the goodness of God, the joy of Christianity, the fulfillment of the Kingdom of God. Our life on earth is merely a time of preparation. It is not the end, not the purpose of our existence. We are not here to cram every possible good feeling into our life. God has placed us here, because He loves us. He wants us to be united with Him. But, He has given us the freedom of choice. He wants it to be something that we desire, too. Only with the fire of His love burning within us, can we really die to ourselves.

So this dying to ourselves what does it mean? What can I do? We think of negatives. Give this up. Don’t do this. Stay away from that. Dying to ourselves does not have to be a negative. Let’s see people as persons who need us, but are afraid, or ashamed to ask. Help them, in whatever way we can. Let’s see the evil in this world, not as the horrible thing that it is, but as a reminder to us that our lives should be filled with prayers for everyone in the world. Let’s make the effort to pray more. What better way than to go to Mass on a daily basis during Lent. (If this is viewed as a negative…I don’t want to, I like to sleep, I don’t have the time… then we don’t understand the nature and beauty of Mass.)

In short, dying to ourselves is really dying to the ways of the world, dying to the ways we may have become accustomed to living. For these forty days, let’s think of some aspect of our life that we can make more positive, more Christian and less of ourselves. I would ask everyone at this time to pray the Chaplet on a daily basis. Pray it for yourself and your family. Pray it for the Church. Pray it for the people in our nation. Pray it for the world. Every one of the above are struggling, hurting and in need of the prayers.The Chaplet is much shorter than the rosary. If you are unaware of what it is, may I suggest that you click on the words: “The Divine Mercy Chaplet and Novena” at the top of this page. Have a happy, love-filled Lent.