It doesn’t seem like so long ago that we entered into Ordinary Time and now Lent is right around the corner. It might feel like we never really got out of Lent 2020. With all of the challenges we have been facing throughout this pandemic, we may feel like we have been on a year-long mission of praying for an end to the pandemic, fasting from our normal lives, and giving time and resources to help those hit hardest by the coronavirus. So, why should this Lent be any different? Should we even bother to make any special effort to mark Lent this year? If Lent is a time for us to pray more, to strip away the excess, and to give to those in need, how would it look any different from what we have been doing for almost a year now?

I would argue that we should, indeed, treat this Lent as the special holy season that it is. Because, even though this past year has been hard, preparation for the celebration of our Lord’s suffering, death, and resurrection should always be marked in a special way. We celebrate Lent in order to prepare for Easter and there is nothing ordinary about what our Lord did and does for us in his sacrifice for our salvation.

I encourage you to spend some time in prayer in the next week or so to ask the Lord if there is a little more that you can do to make this a special Lent. Is there a particular intention that could use a few extra minutes of prayer each day? Is there one more thing you can fast from? Is there a person or a group that could use your daily coffee money for the forty days ahead? If you can answer yes to one or all of these questions, and you are able to commit yourself to that extra prayer, fasting, and almsgiving, you may find more of the JOY for which you are made when you celebrate the JOY of this Easter.