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Benefits of Lent

Updated on January 9, 2013
Stained Glass of a Church
Stained Glass of a Church | Source

What Is Lent?

According to American Heritage Dictionary, Lent is “The 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday until Easter observed by Christians as a season of fasting and penitence in preparation for Easter.”

We were taught in Catholic schools about three facets to help prepare for Easter during the season of Lent:

  • fasting
  • abstaining from meat
  • giving alms

Fasting and abstinence were always easy for me. Under Modern Catholic rules, we only fast on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. This entails abstaining from meat, no eating between meals and 3 small meals. Catholics abstain from meat on Friday, allowing for fish. Giving alms is giving to the poor. Often we received Unicef boxes or extra charity was performed.

I don’t believe in New Years’ Resolutions. I am not sure I have any habit that is so horrific that this sort of resolution needs to be established. But, I do believe in Lent. I love Lent because it gives me a chance to refocus and challenge myself.

What Are You Giving Up For Lent?

The biggest part of Lent growing up was what you were going to give up. Our teachers included doing extra things under this category.

As a kid, we always gave up candy for Lent and Advent. I never understood Advent, but we did it anyways. As we became school age, we might pick other things to give up. Some kids gave up TV. Some gave up snacks. I gave up candy. We were already doing that one and as a kid, that was a tough enough!

As a young adult, I tried to give things up, but sometimes I didn’t really care. What did it really matter?

Now that I have school aged children, it has come to the forefront again.

What Are The Kids Giving Up For Lent?

My older two seven year olds, have jobs cleaning up neighbor’s dog poop. They are in the Pooper Scooper Industry. They get $5/week. They have agreed that 80% of their earnings go to charity. 20% is theirs to spend. In other words, they get a buck a week. For Lent, they created flyers that said in “Honor of Lent, their clients would receive one free week of their Pooper Scooper Services”. Funny, but it was their way of donating their time to help others.

Additionally, they have given up electronics two days a week. This means no Ipad, no Wii, no DS. I have had a few parents say, “That will be harder on you!” I agree. It is easy to watch kids that are heads down engrossed in a game. But, what a good way to unplug and do what we call ‘electronics free’ stuff. They aren’t doing perfectly as sometimes I forgot it is their electronic free day, but we are trying and they are challenged.

Electronics Free Isn't So Bad

Electronics Free Fun!
Electronics Free Fun! | Source

What Do I Give Up For Lent?

A few years ago, I gave up pop. I am a pop drinker and this was a challenge. I kept it up afterwards but did start drinking pop again eventually. This year, my husband and I gave up alcohol. We are not heavy drinkers, but we do enjoy a drink when the kids go to bed. We have been going through a LOT of water. Luckily I was coming off a small bout with the stomach flu on St. Patrick’s Day and had no temptations to drink!

The Crucifix

Our Crucifix
Our Crucifix | Source

But Why Do I Love Lent?

It is supposed to be a time of mourning and preparation. Fewer songs are sung during mass. Weddings and Baptisms are not celebrated during these 40 days. Why am I so excited?

I like forty days of a challenge. It is a great way to test yourself. You can do anything or in many case NOT do anything for forty days. You would be surprised. I know a lot of people who have broken bad habits by giving up things for Lent.

I have a ton of Catholic friends on Facebook. That is what you get after thirteen years of parochial schools. I enjoyed watching what people listed as giving up for Lent. It was Facebook official. They told their social networking world what they were giving up. They were being held accountable. I had a Facebook friend the other day ask me how I was doing giving up alcohol. See what I mean. I am being held accountable.

I have a few friends giving up alcohol like me. I have a non-Catholic friend who is giving up something for the first time this year. After a walk one day and hearing me talk about what I was giving up, she decided to give up pop. How cool! She is doing great! Many said good bye to Facebook on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. They gave Facebook up for Lent. Now that would be a challenge!

Two Weeks Left!

So I have two weeks left of Lent. No drinks for me. No taking in daily masses for extra communion wine. I have been tempted but then I got another a glass of water. I am not saying I won’t have a drink on Easter either. But I do enjoy the challenge. I do enjoy a nice little check that my will power is bigger than my temptations. I do enjoy the sense of accomplishment for successfully achieving my Lenten goals.

Not sure what I will give up next year.

But I do know this. I love Lent because in preparing myself for Easter, I am also improving myself.

Win. Win.

© 2012 Karen Lackey


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    • twinstimes2 profile image

      Karen Lackey 4 years ago from Ohio

      Sharyn- great idea. I am always looking for good, meatless Lenten meals. Good luck!

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Thanks Karen! fyi, my hub is simply about "meal ideas for Lent."

    • twinstimes2 profile image

      Karen Lackey 4 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks for reading Sharyn. Curious to see the hub you write when you do. Lent isn't too far off. I need to figure out what I am giving up and doing extra. I will keep an eye out for your hub! Hope you are doing well, Sharyn!

    • Sharyn's Slant profile image

      Sharon Smith 4 years ago from Northeast Ohio USA

      Hi Karen,

      I was checking to see what is on the hub about Lent as I am planning to write a hub . . . anyway, I came across your hub. I'm embarrassed to say that although I was raised Catholic and do observe Lent, I learned some things here. For example, I did not know Baptisms and Weddings were not held during Lent. I love how you explain what Lent means to you today and how it changed since you now have kids. Great job!


    • twinstimes2 profile image

      Karen Lackey 5 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks, stessily. I am finding a love for Lent as I am getting older! The stained glass was from a convent where I grew up, that was recently taken down. It is beautiful!

    • profile image

      stessily 5 years ago

      twinstimes2, Lent has always been special for me; it simplifies my life and makes me aware of what is essential and what is unnecessary, extraneous, superfluous. Your family's approach encourages a lifetime appreciation of the Christian calendar.

      Kind regards, Stessily

      P.S. I love that stained glass, which was featured on your prayer hub. It's lovely to see it full length.

    • twinstimes2 profile image

      Karen Lackey 5 years ago from Ohio

      Thanks Kashmir56. The meaning of Lent has changed for me as I have gotten older. I enjoy watching my kids challenged by their Lenten promises. Thanks, too, for the vote up!

    • kashmir56 profile image

      Thomas Silvia 5 years ago from Massachusetts

      Hi twinstimes2,a great summary about Lent and what it means to you and your children within this well written hub !

      Vote up and more !