Since I was a child, Lent has been about sacrifice. “What are you giving up for Lent?” Now the church is emphasizing “What are you Doing for Lent?” I would argue that there is room for both.
It’s great to give up something for Lent that is a source of pleasure, whether it is drinking coffee, buying lottery tickets or eating Twinkies. Every time you have to skip your little pleasure, its a reminder of Jesus’ sacrifice and a mini prayer. And after forty days, you can have your treat back.
What if instead, you give up something more serious? Something that is truly a vice, a compulsion. Gambling, smoking, drinking maybe? Only you know what is a real problem for you. Something that pulls you away from God. Something you maybe shouldn’t go back to when those forty days are up. Something that may have you on your knees praying for strength every day. “No one can serve two masters. He will either hate one and love the other, or be devoted to one and despise the other.” (Matthew 6:24). What is your other master?
Conversely, why not add something to your life that will draw you closer to God, a positive habit that you may want to keep up long beyond Lent. Daily Mass maybe, reading the Scriptures, Adoration or Ignation Daily Exercises.
Or look outside of yourself for a Ministry or Charitable work that calls to you. Maybe you want to save the money you would have spent on a can of soda or pack of cigarettes every day and give it to your favorite charity. Or sign up for a soup kitchen or meals on wheels. You’ll know what’s right for you.
If you remove something that draws you away from God and add something that draws you closer to God, you’re off to a good start for Lent.