40 days. 40 nights.

Before today, I was so sure of what to “give up” for the Lenten season.  In fact, there’s so many things I was choosing from. I mean, it would seriously do me a lot of good to get rid of a couple of habits. There’s no to rice, no to fried food, no to sugary drinks, no to fast food, no to junk food, no to Facebook, no to Twitter, no to 9Gag, no cursing, and many many more.  After all, these are the common sacrifices, right?

But, today, during mass, I heard a knock and the gospel says,

Jesus said to his disciples:
“Take care not to perform righteous deeds
in order that people may see them;
otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father.
When you give alms,
do not blow a trumpet before you,
as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets
to win the praise of others.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you give alms,
do not let your left hand know what your right is doing,
so that your alms giving may be secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

“When you pray,
do not be like the hypocrites,|
who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners
so that others may see them.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you pray, go to your inner room,
close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

 “When you fast,
do not look gloomy like the hypocrites.
They neglect their appearance,
so that they may appear to others to be fasting.
Amen, I say to you,
they have received their reward.
But when you fast,
anoint your head and wash your face,
so that you may not appear to be fasting,
except to your Father who is hidden.
And your Father who sees what is hidden will repay you.”

Initially, I wasn’t sure of how I can apply it to myself. Matthew 6:1-6 and 16-18. Hmmm… Nonetheless,  it certainly tugged a string in my heart.

And then, on the way home (God truly works in mysterious ways, huh?) My friends and I were discussing what we’re planning to abstain from for the next 40 days. And there goes my friend, oblivious to her unsurprising words of wisdom, saying, “I’m not sure what to abstain from because I don’t want to do something that would be tainted with my personal motives, like, let’s say, not eating fries to lose weight.” Truth be told, that was such an enlightenment to me. Lent isn’t new year and abstinence isn’t another chance for us to start a resolution. No. We are meant to sacrifice something for God and experience the pain and suffering with him. If we give up something which needs to be rid of, is that even considered as a sacrifice? If we are doing something for our own gain, is that done in the glory of God? If we are doing something out of a sense obligation, do you think that’s the right motivation?

And, suddenly, I realize that the issues that I have been grappling with is because of my preoccupation with what the social norm dictates. What I think people think I should do. What people expect. Or what people would accept.  And, that’s just it. I need to go through this Lenten journey on my own… in secret; without a “gloomy” face, without ensuring that I’m being “seen,” without “trumpeting” the good I’ve done. Actually, just these already sounds difficult enough. Not talking about things equates to not being able to whine or ask for support. Nevertheless, I need to make whatever I am doing between just the two of us-God and me. No more questioning. No more second guessing. No more analyzing. (Perhaps, that’s the sacrifice itself.) Anyway, I think I already know what I need to do. I have been having these nagging feelings recently. Apparently, He tells me things in secret whispers too. And, it’s about time I do it. Whether other people notices me or not, it doesn’t matter. Anyway, at the end of the day, the relationship is between me and God.

Oh. And, as for your, my dear reader, if you are unsure of what to do this Lent, perhaps this article may be of help.

Good night. I’ll talk to you again, after the next forty days.