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Ideas for Your Lenten Sacrifice

Updated on February 11, 2020
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I write about many subjects typically surrounding my kids, including fundraising, gifts for children, vacations, and Boy Scouts.

What are you giving up for Lent this year?

Is your Lenten sacrifice something to improve yourself or one of the favorite things in your life? Are you going to give up a vice like smoking or a virtue like chocolate for lent?

I am a Catholic and I am raising my kids Catholic. I would not say I am religious, but as I get older I find myself listening more to the words and looking for the meanings during church services. I find the subject of religion extremely fascinating and don't judge one over the other, instead, I look for the commonalities and the teachings they bring to their followers.

Lent is the time period that Christians celebrate the 40 days Jesus spent in the desert. During this time, Jesus faced the devil three times. After coming out of the desert, Jesus began his ministry and devotion towards God.

The question is simple as there is no right or wrong answer here, and I will not preach, I will research and publish facts though. I'm just looking to see what people are giving up for lent this year, is it a vice or a virtue?


When does Lent Begin?

The beginning of Lent is typically Ash Wednesday or the day after Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras. Ash Wednesday is calculated as 46 days before Easter Sunday, and since Easter is on a different day each year, unlike Christmas, the first day of Lent is on a different day each year.

In order to find the first day of Lent, you have to know on what day Easter falls. Easter is celebrated on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the vernal equinox, thus Lent can begin as early as February 4th and as late as March 10th.

  • In 2011, Lent started on March 9
  • In 2012, Lent started on February 22
  • In 2013, Lent started on February 13
  • In 2014, Lent started on March 5
  • In 2015, Lent started on February 18
  • In 2016, Lent started on February 10
  • In 2017, Lent started on March 1
  • In 2018, Lent started on February 14 (St. Valentine's Day)
  • In 2019, Lent started on March 6
  • In 2020, Lent starts on February 26
  • In 2021, Lent starts on February 17
  • In 2022, Lent starts on March 2

A Limit is Not a Sacrifice

One year, my daughter suggested that she was going to limit the number of texts she does per day. I laughed and didn't agree to this type of sacrifice. That would be like Jesus saying, hey, I'm going into the desert for 40 days, but I'm coming back in town for dinner every night.

I don't believe you can limit something, like limit Facebook for 20 minutes instead of 1 hour per day or 1 can of Pepsi instead of 3 cans per day, and call that a sacrifice, you must actually make the sacrifice.

What do people Sacrifice During Lent

What do you sacrifice? Should it be something that you enjoy like playing the Wii or an addiction like Smoking? I think both have there merits and should be looked at equally.

Whatever it is you decide to sacrifice, make sure that it is something you will definitely miss doing without and make it specific. For years, I have given up the elevator at work and hiked up to my office on the 7th floor. Meetings on the 1st floor was always fun, and I rarely went out to lunch during this time period.

Here are Vices being given up for lent:

  • Alcohol
  • Beer
  • Wine
  • Impulse Shopping
  • Fried Foods
  • Gambling
  • Leaving Flaming Comments on Forums and Social Media
  • Lottery
  • Swearing
  • Tobacco (Smoking or Chewing)

Here are virtues being given up for lent:

For Adults

  • Abbreviations while texting. LOL
  • Online chat rooms
  • Your time. Donate your time to others
  • Driving to Work. Take Public Transportation
  • Soda
  • Coffee
  • Caffeine
  • All Social Media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snap Chat, etc.)
  • Eating Out
  • Chocolate
  • Carbonated Beverages
  • Online Shopping
  • Starbucks
  • Fast Foods

What can Kids give up for lent? Yes, teaching kids that they can go without is part of religious teachings.

  • TV
  • All Social Media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap Chat, etc.)
  • Handheld Game Devices.
  • Wii, PS3, PS4, Xbox
  • Video Games
  • Phones
  • Texting
  • Pizza
  • Soda
  • French Fries
  • McDonald's
  • Ice Cream. (Make sure your birthday isn't during lent.)

A speaker at our Catholic Church a couple of weeks before lent was giving a speech to the high school students. And he gave a couple of suggestions that I hadn't thought of in that sometimes a sacrifice isn't giving up something you consume but it can also be giving up your time such as:

  • Playing with your younger sibling for 40 minutes once per week.
  • Doing the dinner dishes every night.
  • Visiting a retirement home for 40 minutes once per week.
  • Notice that the sacrifice isn't just once, it is every night or every week.

What's the point in a Sacrifice

A sacrifice in baseball is to give yourself up for the better of the team. The same can be true during lent, sacrifice yourself for the better of the team, and you get to define team. Is it your family, your church, or your community. Whatever you choose, it should be something that is difficult to do or live without.

A sacrifice for your family may mean giving up the weekly pizza night, the weekly poker game, or smoking.

A sacrifice for you church may mean you sacrifice your time to help feed the hungry, volunteer for the food pantry, or help with the collection of the Easter ham drive.

A sacrifice for your community may mean bringing the elderly to the store for a shopping trip, volunteering for crosswalk duty at your local school, or teaching a computer class at your YMCA.

At the end of Lent, your sacrifice should make you feel better about yourself. You should feel like you've contributed something and it should enable you to continue to give throughout the year.


Why do Catholic's give up Meat on Fridays during Lent?

I am a catholic, and have been practicing no meat for most of my life. However, as I started researching the reason for no meat on Fridays, its pretty clear that this is a tradition that has been passed down through the years and as a faith, we just believe.

Religious based reasons:

  1. Jesus died on a Friday
  2. Jewish dietary law in the Old Testament
  3. To show the Lord the ability to sacrifice.
  4. Vatican II relaxed the the meat restriction from every Friday for economic reasons.
  5. Emperor Constantine banned on Fridays due to a meat shortage
  6. Fisherman went to Pope to boost their business
  7. Meat was only consumed by the rich in the first millennium.
  8. Most Catholics were fisherman in the first millennium.

Sacrificing something on Friday was more about showing your devotion to God and Jesus and was less about what it was you were sacrificing. Very commonly, when St Patrick's Day falls on a Friday, Corned Beef is allowed to be eaten, as long as you are showing your sacrifice in another way.

At the end of the day, your belief system is what you have to guide you through your life. There are rights and wrongs, and interpretations will continue to play out as they do today. Like the way the Bill of Rights guides the United States, so do the ten commandments guide people's faiths and beliefs of right and wrong.

If we all follow the mantra of: Do no harm (physically, spiritually, emotionally, economically) and help each other; we could all live together successfully.

Can you make a Lenten Resolution -

or can you only make a lenten sacrifice?

I heard the term Lenten Resolution in church on the 1st Sunday of Lent in 2010. It was the first time I heard the term and was curious when our Father stated the word. The father conducting the mass is not American but from I believe Haiti or the Dominican Republic, I believe. When the father uses a word that is different, sometimes its because of the way things translates, so there may be some credence there.

I began to explore the term resolution a little farther, and know that New Year's Resolutions are popular. I think of New Year's resolutions as something that you want to change in your life, like, losing weight, exercising more, eating right, saving more money, volunteering more, or giving more to church.

A sacrifice however, is something you are intending to do without for a period of time. It may help you with a resolution, but it is intended to be something that you give up, even though you don't have to or want. A sacrifice is not losing weight, but not eating chocolate. A sacrifice is not exercising more, but walking up stairs instead of using the elevator.

Can you make a Lenten Resolution? No, I don't think you can. You can make Lent Sacrifices, which is the way I will tend to remember them.


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