Lent is almost over. Easter is a time to celebrate, eat chocolate, and throw off the behaviors and disciplines of Lent! Right? How many of us go right back to our usual before Lent behaviors and routines when Easter arrives? I do. I have a confession: not only do I go right back, but I usually look forward to Easter for this reason as well: to be done with the behaviors and routines of Lent.
Is this really the right attitude? Celebrating Easter–celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Savior–is definitely the right attitude to have. But when I think of celebrating that I am done with the behaviors and routines I put in place during Lent for the purpose of drawing closer to Jesus and showing Him I love Him, well, I cringe. What kind of friend am I if I do that? How am I showing Jesus that I love Him when I suddenly abandon those practices? These questions lead me to ask myself: should I continue the practices of Lent after Easter?
I thought of an analogy that illustrates the attitude I want to have after Lent. Over a year ago I cut sugar out of my diet temporarily. As I gradually stopped eating it, I thought to myself, “I am really looking forward to eating sweets again when this is over!” However, when I could eat sweets again, I didn’t want to as much as I thought I would. My taste buds had changed. I enjoyed this new way of eating. I did not want to go back to eating the way I did before. This is the way I want to be after Lent: enjoying the fruits of my new behaviors and routines and not wanting to go back to where I was before.
In order to work to make the change I desire, this Easter I am asking myself two questions: How did God enrich my life this Lent? and What can I do to continue this after Easter?
How did God enrich my life this Lent?
- What behaviors or routines did I add to my life during Lent?
- What did I sacrifice during Lent?
- What changes have I noticed in myself?
- In what ways have I grown closer to God?
- How have I grown personally: within myself and in my relationships with others?
This Lent I worked to be more patient with my children and not raise my voice at them. I participated in the Stations of the Cross at church every Friday. I sacrificed free time in my day each week to go to church for the Stations. I have noticed that I have more patience with our children. Except for yelling at one of our boys on one day that I’d rather forget, I have not raised my voice to our children as much during Lent as I did before Lent. I have grown closer to God in learning more about Him and meditating on His life and passion during the Stations. I have grown personally by being more aware of and recognizing God’s hand in my life. I have spent more time playing with our kids–just having fun.
What can I do to continue this after Easter?
- Is it realistic for me to continue this behavior or routine after Easter?
- If yes, where will I put this behavior or routine in my day or week?
- If no, how can I adapt it to make it work?
- What fruits do I hope to gain from this?
- What plan do I have to hold myself accountable to continue to do this?
Yes, it is completely realistic for me to continue to work on being patient with our children and not raise my voice at them. This is a behavior I need to be mindful of all of the time. The fruits I hope to gain are greater peace, love, and understanding in our home. To hold myself accountable, I can examine my conscience each night and ask my husband to let me know when I slip in this area.
It is not realistic for me to participate in the Stations of the Cross after Easter since the group at our church only does this during Lent. I could pray the Stations on my own at church or at home. Or, I could read the daily Mass readings or a chapter from the Gospels each day to continue to learn about Jesus’ life and ministry. I think I’ll do the second one: read the Mass readings daily. The fruits I hope to gain are a deepening of my relationship with Jesus and a greater understanding of His love for me. To hold myself accountable I can put my Bible on my bed in the morning to give myself a visual reminder to read the Mass readings.
I am excited this year to bring some of my Lenten behaviors and routines into the Easter season to continue to transform my life. I will evaluate my Lent by asking myself the questions: How did God enrich my life this Lent? and What can I do to continue this after Easter? I will decide which of my behaviors and routines to continue after Easter and I will put plans in place to hold myself accountable.
What about you? What plans do you want to make?