By Chaplain (Capt.) Ariel Castillo
Special to GUIDON
In this time as we approach Easter, we may find ourselves hearing a lot about the word “Lent.”
Lent simply means “springtime” in Old English, but over time, it has come to connote 40 days set aside for spiritual renewal. Have you ever appreciated the benefits of a good spring cleaning of the office or home?
Similarly, our hearts and minds benefit from thorough spiritual cleansing. For this reason, the Psalmist wrote long ago, “Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me,” Psalm 51:10. For 40 days, Jesus fasted and prayed in the wilderness, preparing for his earthly ministry. Jesus’ journey from birth to death on the cross took a pivotal turn when Jesus allowed himself to be led by the spirit, as he stepped away from common comforts of life in Galilee to experience a time of hunger, loneliness and temptation.
Yet this time was also one of great communion with God for Jesus. The Gospels say Jesus overcame fierce temptation, and he was ministered by angels in those 40 days.
Much like Jesus, we undergo times of hunger, thirst, loneliness, temptation, etc., except it’s often not by choice. Nonetheless, these experiences are reminders that life on Earth misses the mark from being perfect and pain-free. Lent is a time to remind ourselves of our frailty as imperfect creatures, and nurture our spirits more than our bodies.
Throughout history, Christians have observed Lent with prayer, fasting and giving to the needy. I traditionally log off social media sites indefinitely beginning with Lent. Others withhold TV, favorite pastimes and, of course, maybe their favorite foods. But we shouldn’t merely seek to sacrifice — the world has enough people punishing themselves. Instead, I suggest picking up a spiritual discipline this Lenten season. Lent is a great time to practice forgiveness, delve deeper in reading sacred texts, visit and serve the needy and serve more in the community.
In short, there are countless ways to participate in Lent. The rule of thumb is to think deeply about what you intend to do, pray about it and look for what works best for you. Lastly, don’t be afraid to consult your local, friendly, neighborhood chaplain for help, too. So, how about it?
Let’s support our journey through Lent this season together with true spiritual renewal in mind.
(Editor’s note: Castillo is a chaplain with the 3rd Battalion, 10th Infantry Regiment.)