As disciples, we accompany Jesus in every phase of our lives, following Him wherever He takes us, and never wanting to be separated from Him. So when the Lord goes into the desert to fast and pray for 40 days, we go along with Him.
Far from just a sentimental kind of mimicry, this season of Lent is serious business for our spiritual health. It is a grace-filled opportunity for renewal, a spring cleaning of our souls, to make us ready for the great feast of Easter.
During Lent, we are called to examine our lives, repent, confess our sins, and do penance. As we ask the Lord to help us overcome our weaknesses, He asks us to do our part to strive for self-mastery.
The Church guides us through this process, encouraging us to follow the traditional practices of penance – fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. That is why one of the Church’s precepts is to observe the days of fasting and of abstinence from meat. This is not to be legalistic, but rather to help us join Jesus in His fast.
We give up some of our creature comforts, not merely to deprive ourselves, but to free us for something greater. Even tiny ways of self-denial help us to grow in freedom, strengthen us to be faithful in more serious matters, and enable us to climb higher spiritually.
As St. Peter of Alcantara said, “With a pampered and satiated body, the soul is not free to fly high.”