Hello, Lent! (For the Twenty-third Time!)

I really don’t like the season of Lent. It’s forty days (not counting Holy Week, of course) of total gloominess — that’s like 11% of the year (13% if you count up to Black Saturday). I haven’t sponsored the idea though of vacation during these “days of sacrifice” as I was raised to participate in singing Pabasa and watching Hampas-dugo (behind shut eyes for the latter). While I’ve grown to appreciate Lent as the season of preparation for Jesus’ great Paschal Mystery, all my mundane eyes can see are shades of grey every time the Christian Church enters into this period of the year.

This is my first Lent as a professional. Fresh from my two college graduation, I am a total newbie to this feeling.

They say that Lent is the season of sacrifices, a time of letting go (or at least suspending certain areas of one’s life). Modern definitions of abstinence and fasting are not limited to just eating fish anymore (about time, since seafood is more luxurious than meat in general!). It’s quitting one’s habits and mannerisms which are not really necessary in life for the next forty days. In doing so, one can appreciate how much more beautiful life is without material worry.

How can one though live like Jesus Christ (and even Siddharta Gautama Buddha) in the next forty days in the time of Twitter and Facebook? How can one experience “being one with the world” with all the comforts [nano]technology can offer? How can one sacrifice something in this heavily-internet-dependent world? Everyone has different answers (and non-answers), but I think the simplest common response to this is encountered in silence. It’s something I learned from my Ignatian retreat exactly two years ago:

Take you Bible, find a comfortable place (mine is a hammock) and assume whatever comfortable position. Pray for God’s grace to enter your body then randomly open the Bible to where your fingers first touch it. Read a short random verse that you first see — that is God’s message to you! Read it repeatedly in silence until you can hear God personally talking to you. He can tell you to go to sleep and if that’s the case, do so. Spiritual rest is a gift from God.

Last year, I promised to start eating seafood and veggies. I was like around a year delayed, but nonetheless I’m proud to say I can do it now. It took a slow pace for me. So this year, I promise to… nothing. Seriously, nothing comes to mind as of now. Maybe I’ll drink more these next forty days, but if it’s what God wants me to do — to spend my life in the company of friends — then so be it. Oh yeah, I think I have one now: I promise to take like even an hour or half an hour everyday simply reflecting on life and its simplicity. No earphones stuck in my ears, cellphones turned off.

As for sacrifice, maybe I’ll just let go/minimize my hyper-extroversion. I’ll try to talk less these next forty days, and I’ll attempt not to be loud with my personal opinions. This time, I will give all the people around me a bigger ear. (Oh, and I also promise to sacrifice my habit of over-spending and over-eating salty foods too! And of course, more on eating seafood and veggies!)

I really, really, really don’t like the season of Lent. However, it’s still 11-13% of our Gregorian calendar. That meager amount is a reminder for us that the remaining 87-89% of the year, no matter how wonderful they are, still find their roots on simple living.

Salamat sa Diyos, salamat sa Diyos,
Sa Wika Mong banal, salamat po!
Salamat sa Diyos, salamat sa Diyos,
Sa Bugtong Mong Anak, salamat po!


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