Lent Is a Time of Courtship

Lent Is a Time of Courtship

We just experienced Ash Wednesday — the age-old tradition of crossing one’s forehead with ashes to remind ourselves that we are dust, and to dust we shall return. Ash Wednesday is also the beginning of the season of Lent, a time wherein we remember the Passion of Christ leading up to His eventual victory on Easter.

While Lent is full of meaning and symbolism that remind us of God’s victory over all suffering, it is also the time wherein we are called to suffer with Christ. The Church calls all the faithful to participate in three things during lent: Prayer, Fasting, and Almsgiving. This call to talk to God more, to give up a little and to give more for Christ seem simple at first glance. But it is also easy to gloss over it and lose its meaning in the process. A superficial diet becomes a fast. Novenas are done for their own sake. Even almsgiving feels forced. There is no more amore in the things we do in Lent. It becomes simply a time to brush the dust off our New Year’s Resolutions in an attempt to give it more meaning.

So when the priest in his Ash Wednesday homily interpreted Lent as a time of courtship with the Lord, I was really intrigued. He described love as to know and to be known. This is why in courtship, we usually spend a significant amount of time just talking to the person whom we love. We often skip small talk, and dive straight into deep and profound conversations with our loved ones in our desire to get to know them better. Communication is key in any relationship, and prayer in its fullest meaning is to communicate with the Lord. So, imagine having these deep and profound conversations with God. Bare your heart to the Lord in prayer, tell him your aches and pains, your joys and triumphs — He desires to know you. This Lent, spend time in getting to know Him too.

Now let’s talk about fasting — our pseudo-spiritual diet. A time of depravation from the food we like, to prove our love to God. Basically it sounds like this: to prove my love for you, I will give up chocolate. For 40 days, I will not drink pop to show you my love. If you put it this way, doesn’t it sound a bit superficial? How does this prove our love and benefit our loved one?

Fasting should be giving up or sacrificing something in order to grow our love for the other. I like basketball. I will not miss a game especially if the Celtics, my team, is playing. But if I give it up in order to spend more time with my wife, then I’d like to think that holds more meaning than me simply skipping on chocolates. In giving up something you like, for someone you love in order to grow in that love, there is sacrifice involved, no matter how small or trivial it may seem. This Lent, give up something you like, so you can give more attention to God.

Finally, almsgiving — equally important but oft forgotten of the three. Almsgiving is the giving of our resources (time, talent, and treasure) to the poor. Let me ask you a question — do you roll down your window in traffic to hand out loose change to a homeless person, or do you go out of your way to serve them through random acts of kindness? Do you give out of obligation, or do you give out of love? Because Lent is a time of courtship, let’s look at this in light of our relationships with our loved ones. I will go out of my way to give my wife something she likes because seeing her happy gives me joy. I will give it to her not out of convenience, or excess, but out of love. This Lent, let us not give begrudgingly, but let us give with joy and out of love.

Lent is a time of courtship. Today, let us enter into a courtship with the Lord, not because we are compelled to, but because we are loved and we want to respond to that love. Let us not feel limited in the way we pray, fast, and give alms. Like in any courtship, let us be prepared to know God and be known by God in a more profound way.

I am certain that, after our sacrifices during Lent, the Yes God gives during Easter will be more worth celebrating!

Kevin Muico is national missions coordinator and national communications head for Couples For Christ Canada, and collaborates with the TOB Institute as a speaker for youth and young adults.