When I was in grade school and high school, I vividly remember thinking hard about what I wanted to give up for Lent. It could be chocolate, television, soda pop or, one most memorable year, sarcasm (that was an awfully quiet Lent). I would focus on making my sacrifice real and difficult as a tiny representation of Jesus’ sacrifice for all of us. I would consider how that sacrifice was helping me become a better version of myself and, hopefully, making the world a better place in some small way.
In college and graduate school, I moved toward adding rather than subtracting from my daily routine. Rather than giving something up, I would try to add a good habit, like increasing optimism in my day (difficult during cold and gray winter months), choosing to see the good in others rather than impatiently judging or adding prayer/meditation time more intentionally to my daily routine. I felt at the time that this shift was significant, and even an epiphany of sorts, to see Lent as an opportunity for growth and improvement in addition to sacrifice.
In recent years as a wife, mother, daughter, teacher and friend, I have thought more about the calls Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat and Saint Rose Philippine Duchesne answered in their own lives. The calls of the Sacred Heart charism resonate deeply with our Lenten journey as we are consistently called to cultivate kinship with one another. I have been heartened by Pope Francis’ exhortation to Christians to fast from bad habits and “to ‘do penance,’ to ‘feel a little hunger,’ to ‘pray more during Lent’ and to ask themselves how they behave towards the other.” (Vatican News)
While making known the love of the heart of Jesus to the world, we, in the Sacred Heart community, are answering these calls each day. We examine our daily interactions in a spirit of penance, we acknowledge our spiritual hunger and, hopefully, we take every opportunity to pray more and act from a place of love towards ourselves and one another.
Let us consider what we are each called to do as we begin our Lenten journey toward the greatest of all sacrifices and the miracle of resurrection. We may be called to give up sarcasm or gossip. We may be called to laugh more with those we love most. We may be called to go to the margins to be in solidarity with those most in need of love and kindness. We may be called to sit in silence and heed God’s voice. Through God’s grace, let us open our hearts this Lent to listen to these calls.
Reflection: Cristina Hiddleston, Educator at Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, Omaha, Nebraska; Alumna of Duchesne Academy, Omaha '93
Image: The chapel at Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart, Omaha