Lent Invites Us to Join Jesus in the Desert

By Dr. Gilberto Hinojosa, professor emeritus

Lent invites us to join Jesus in the desert.

But what about that good old Catholic school refrain: “What should I give up for Lent?”?  Is it on its way out?

In some way, that would be good because it was simplistic.  After all, giving up ice cream, sodas, or Girl Scout Cookies does not automatically make us better persons.  In fact, few of those Lenten denials turned into permanent good habits.  And to be honest, no one really suffered from those “sacrifices.”

But wait!  Giving up something was a good reminder that Lent is a special season.

Dr. Gilberto Hinojosa reflects on the sacrifice of Lent and “walking in the desert.”

We need reminders that we need spend time in the “desert.”  Lent is supposed to pull us away from our daily routines and draw us into the mysteries of the life of God in us and among us.

Being in the desert involves solitude, being alone, away from distractions.

In today’s terms, it might mean shutting down the cell phone, the tablet, or the laptop, getting away from constantly being in touch with others, and getting ourselves away from the world of entertainment.

I sometimes check my phone in the car on my way to work or home, sometimes while running an errand, or while waiting for the traffic light to change.  Now, technically I am not driving, but it’s still pretty silly that I need to be aware, at all times, of any emails or earth-shaking newsbreaks.  This is reflective of the habit of cluttering up my life.

I have, however, developed a habit of some quiet, “desert” moments during the day.  But they are brief and, to be honest, they are only a couple – as in two.

Will giving up my favorite something – having a delicious fish dinner on Lenten Fridays is no sacrifice! – change my life?  It should at least push me into a few more minutes of being alone with myself and with my God.

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