There are many who consider Sunday worship the extent of their duties as Catholics. They will attend Mass consistently, give alms, and pray faithfully during the hour or so that they spend in God's presence each weekend. But when we are called to serve God, we are called to serve seven days a week, not just on our day of rest.
Everyday discipleship is frequently counter to our surrounding culture. It demands a self-giving love from us that pushes us to put others before ourselves. In a culture of "me, me, me", it can be difficult to even know how to do this, let alone do it in a crowd of people all moving in a different, self-serving direction.
Depending on your vocation, everyday discipleship may look a little different. Mothers at home with their children cannot serve that way a diocesan priest can. A single man can perform acts of a service that a cloistered nun cannot (and vice versa). Regardless of your vocation, there are seven things we can try and incorporate into our day-to-day in an effort to be active disciples of Christ every single day.
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Traditionally, Lent is a time of abstention. Last year was a weird time, pregnancy made me exempt from the fasting that I had grown up with. Instead, I focused on things I could do or add to my day, as well as abstaining from non-food things.
This year, I've decided to return to the old habits of giving up a particular food item. The tradition behind it is a practice of spiritual purification and enlightenment that took place the forty days before the early Christians baptisms. In modern times, we make sacrifices (especially in the Lenten season) to help us walk closer to Christ. Ancient religions believed in the need to make sacrifices to their gods and we do the same by sacrificing favorite things or bad habits to God.
When we give up chocolate or Netflix for forty days, we are making an effort to honor God through our willingness to abstain from earthly pleasures, confident that the paradise God offers us through a passionate relationship with God is worth it all.
This year, I'm trying for something big: adding sugar. Forty days of no desserts, sugar on my oatmeal, or honey in my tea. Yikes. This one is double-whammy because I know processed sugar is terrible for you anyways and I've been struggling with it since my pregnancy.
What about you? Have you started to think about you will be giving up this year? Let me know in the comments below!