February 28 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

8 lent feature

A season of giving as well as giving up

Catherine Deighan reflects on how she will mark the season of Lent through giving up some of her favourite things and by giving to charity.

When I was younger, during Lent, my family would try to attend 8am Mass together in the mornings before school.

Looking back, it must have made the other parishioners laugh to see my brother, five sisters and I come into Church with our school uniforms on, still half asleep. Not that we minded the early rise, as we knew my dad would treat us to Greggs pancakes after the Mass was ended.

As I have got older, I have learned the hard lesson that not every Lenten sacrifice will be rewarded with an instantaneous Greggs pancake.

This year, I have chosen a few different things to give up, as well as deciding to give more this Lent. For the past two years I have worked in a clothes shop. To my mum’s horror, I come home after most shifts with a carrier bag filled with new clothes that I do not need.

Lenten sacrifices

Therefore, an obvious sacrifice for me this Lent is to stop buying clothes. Both my mum’s ironing pile and my bank account are sure to reap the benefits of this Lenten promise.

Another one for me this year, is the common sacrifice of staying away from fast food.

Being in Glasgow city centre most weekdays to attend University often means I find myself in and out of the likes of Greggs and McDonalds. Then I find myself rounding off most weeks with a Chinese takeaway.

Fast food is going on the list of things to give up this Lent. This is a popular choice amongst my friends and my sisters too.

Giving and giving up

Another thing to do this Lent for me is to get better at spending time with my family. Not that spending time with family is in any way a sacrifice… But, when you’re busy with work, school and seeing your friends, it’s easy to forget to sit down with a cup of tea and chat with your family about how their days have been.

Every year, when I make a list of Lenten promises, I try keep in mind that what I give up shouldn’t be simply to benefit myself. I try not go off something simply in order to lose weight or to save money, tempting as it is to keep these things in mind when you’re choosing what to do for Lent.

Keeping this in mind, this year, I’m going to choose a charity to focus on over the Lenten period. It was my younger sister Geraldine that reminded me that giving is just as important as giving up. Each lent she keeps a SCIAF’s Wee Box, next to her bed and fills it with all the loose change she would have spent on buying sweeties after school.

Choosing a charity

There are so many charities that have Lenten initiatives so this year I will strive to get involved. SCIAF’s Wee Box is a perfect example of what you could make your own personal mission over Lent. SPUC (Society for the Protection of Unborn Children) have a similar Lenten initiative, the ‘Tiny feet baby bottles’ initiative. The aim is similar: over the 40 days of Lent you put away spare change and send it off to the charity after Easter.

I had a look into some other charities online that are doing fundraising over Lent, such as Missio, Aid to the Church in Need and Mary’s Meals—just to name a few. There is an endless list of causes needing extra financial help as well as prayers and volunteering over Lent if you are looking for something to be involved in.

In addition, I think for most young people that are participating in Lent, looking at the time you spend on social media or on a screen is common.

Social media

My sister Grace said, this Lent, she aims to take half an hour out of her screen time and instead she plans to read a book. Cutting down time on social media will be another one I am going to try do this year and use the time I would spent scrolling through Instagram to study, read a book or just something more productive.

Ultimately, Lent should bring us closer to God and prepare us for Easter, whether that is through giving up chocolate or giving an extra few pounds in the collection at Mass. As long as we remember the purpose of Lent and the point in our Lenten promises, and whom we are making the sacrifices for, then we can have a successful Lent.

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