Lobb: Finding the real sacrifice during Lent

Matt Kelly

Pack up the candy. Put away the meat. And pray for the patience you won’t break your promise. It’s Lent; the season of self-sacrifice, repentance and perhaps improvement. All the while your stomach is in perpetual morning for the Tastykakes that used to grace your cabinet shelves.

“So what are you giving up for Lent?” It seems to be the question coming out of everyone’s mouth this month. Chocolate, cake, cookies … While the essence of sacrifice is important, I think that the act of giving up needs to be reflected upon. Even re-evaluated.

People often choose to give-up their favorite food. Why do you think Fat Tuesday was invented? Mardi Gras is one last, momentous party, providing the chance to gorge on everything that one will miss in the coming weeks.

But I’m not giving up a specific type of food for Lent. Sure, I won’t eat meat on Fridays, but I don’t see how forfeiting M&Ms is going to help me or anyone else. (The only thing benefiting from sacrificing snacks is the waistline.) Of course, who am I to judge what one should or should not sacrifice? I just feel that if a person is going to make a sacrifice, the sacrifice should ultimately be bringing about a greater good.

For instance, say I choose to surrender watching my favorite television show during Lent. If during the time that show is on, I read magazines or watch a different television show, then what am I gaining. Where is the sacrifice? But if during that hour, I spend the time praying, then the sacrifice becomes more meaningful. I am improving my spiritual life. If I spend that hour, visiting someone who is sick or working for a charity, then the sacrifice is benefiting others and thus, has a firmer purpose.

Fasting is an important ritual during Lent because it makes us more empathetic to the people who are starving worlds away from here. Empathy is necessary for a compassionate humanity, but it doesn’t help the people who are starving. Take the money you spend on the item you’re giving up – whether it be candy, cigarettes or alcohol – and donate it to a charity that works to prevent hunger. Then this sacrifice, this fast, has real meaning.

While watching the world news the other evening, I was devastated to discover that every seven seconds a child dies of starvation. Twenty-four thousand people starve to death every day. It is unfathomable, especially in a country where food is so abundant, to imagine having nothing to eat.

Instead of giving up food this Lent, make a conscious effort not to waste food. This is something I myself, am guilty of. Since hearing those statistics, I’ve become more aware of eating what’s on my plate and instead of throwing away leftovers making them my next meal.

There is nothing wrong with giving up of snacks for Lent. By the same token, don’t forego eating M&Ms only to replace them with Snickers. Sacrifices are not suppose to be easy – that is why it’s called a sacrifice. Challenge yourself.

Collect loose change for the poor box. Spend time praying. Visit the sick. Help the homeless. This Lent, choose a sacrifice that will help you grow spiritually. The whole purpose of Lent is to prepare for Jesus’ death on the cross. But instead of mourning his death, choose to celebrate his life by embodying His mission and work here on earth.

Jesus’ death on the cross was the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus gave His life as a sacrifice just as God gave His son as a sacrifice. These are BIG sacrifices — both to benefit us. Therefore, our sacrifice should be beneficial too; it should reflect a larger purpose.

And don’t worry. You’ll have plenty of candy at the end of Lent. After all, why do you think they really invented Easter?