by Emily Lopez
As we shiver our way through these last weeks of winter, we can’t help but imagine the warmer days of spring. And we especially look forward to the upcoming spring break.
As long as I can remember, spring break has been the week that I imagined everyone else having more fun than myself.
When I was young, spring break meant visiting grandparents (or other family members) that lived in places like Oklahoma and Indiana . . . no mountains and no beaches.
Sometimes we were crisscrossing the Midwest for multiple visits while other times we were hunkered down in a single location.
Regardless, I do remember one spring break constant — Lent.
For Catholics, spring break always seems to fall during the liturgical season of Lent. As a child, this inevitably put a damper on any hope for fun. It meant more church, less TV and no desserts — none of which added to my sense of “vacation.”
We were blessed to watch hours of western Kansas landscape through our car windows as I imagined my classmates visiting Disney World and playing on sunny beaches . . . definitely not “Lenting.”
As a child, my limited view of Lent was the perpetual season of nothing fun. However, as an adult, I’ve come to appreciate the beautiful collision between these two seasons.
The practice of taking a holiday during the spring season dates back to ancient Greece and a three-day “awakening” celebration of the god Dionysus. It was a special gathering of the community to stop their daily work and recognize the gift of spring.
Our secular spring break holiday is similar — a vacation from monotonous schedules to spend time with family and/or friends. When we consider the need for spiritual reprieve, we find that Lent offers a similar intention.
As a Catholic community, we are called out of the busyness of daily routines into a more intimate relationship with Christ during the season of Lent.
Extended opportunities to receive his mercy and grace are offered through confession, additional Masses and Stations of the Cross. We’re invited to share in the practices of fasting and almsgiving with our parish community.
Ultimately, Lent is a time when the “Church unites herself each year to the mystery of Jesus in the desert” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 540).
As the church, each one of us is called to experience Lent in our own desert as we intentionally distance ourselves from our worldly temptations. We’re invited to fortify our desire for holiness through prayer and fasting, and reminded of our most valuable identity as sons and daughters of Christ.
Just as spring break is a physical vacation for renewal with family/friends, Lent offers us the opportunity for spiritual growth and reconnection with God.
I hope that you take time to consider your desert story. How might God be calling you to strengthen your relationship with him to overcome the temptations of the world?
Regardless of where you spend your spring break, consider giving some of your vacation to journeying with Christ and uncovering his plan for your Lent.