Giving Up or Giving To: Weekly Message for 02-20-24

Dear Friends,

No sooner than the visible ashes are acknowledged on one’s forehead, the following question is asked, “What are you giving up for Lent?” As children we were encouraged to make a small sacrifice for Jesus. I remember several Lents where my mother made the decision for us, no sweets and no TV. It seemed much more like a punishment than a choice.

The Church has always encouraged, prayer, fasting and almsgiving during Lent as a means of preparation to accompany Jesus through his passion, death and resurrection.

In modern circles, Lent has become a time to break bad habits, like giving up smoking, fasting to lose the 10 pounds still hanging on from Christmas, giving up social media, etc. All of these are good things, as they help to discipline our bodies and our wills to be more docile to the invitation from the Holy Spirit to be more like Jesus.

As I got older some of my spiritual mentors encouraged a different mindset; instead of giving something up, why not do something more. Go practice the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. Go visit nursing homes, prisons, the homebound, or the relative you avoid because they will spend an hour repeating stories you heard 100 times already. Go to mass during the week, take on an extra holy hour, or actually pray your prayers instead of giving lip service. Imitate the life of Jesus by your actions.

This year, I invite our readers, regardless of how you choose to live your Lenten sacrifices, to give from the heart and not the mind. I am not giving up this unhealthy behavior or the food I love or giving up my time to practice the works of mercy for the sake of sacrifice itself, but instead I am giving it to Jesus because he loved me enough to die for me. In the end, our call as baptized Christians is to become like Christ.

Let’s live this Lent in such a way that people see less of us, and more of Jesus.

Yours in the heart of Jesus,

Donna Garrett

What did you think?

Share your review! Just log in or create your free account.

One Comment
  1. TKC!
    The Holy Spirit brings so much light through your letter here. As I’m trying to “give Up “sweets this Lent, I become irritated with my husband, Ken.
    He avoids me because he doesn’t want to be a source of my irritation. This “giving up” sweets actually distracts me from serving those entrusted to my care, instead of bringing me closer to Christ.
    Thank you for the spiritual insights,
    I continue my Lent with a renewed & prayerful spirit!
    In Christ,
    Madeline Swartz

Leave a Reply

Want more?

Sign up for the weekly email and access to member-only content

Discover the Widow’s Way of
Giving for God’s sake

Learn More
Skip to content