My problem wasn’t that I chose overly challenging forms of fasting and abstinence—they were modest and achievable. Rather, when something doesn’t go your way in life, as was the case for me last week, it becomes easy to justify indulging in the very things you intended to sacrifice.
Of course, once the instant gratification has passed, you quickly remember that material consumption is a poor fix for painful circumstances. Instead, reaching beyond self-concern through prayer, almsgiving and service usually relativizes the problem and makes it seem more bearable, doesn’t it?
I’ll spare you the details of my confession, but I told my priest that I needed to recommit to Lent. Sure enough, the next morning, I found myself surprisingly eager to make those small sacrifices for my own purification and love of Jesus. And with them comes a distinctly subtle kind of joy that catches me by surprise every year.