Admit it, when we hear Holy Week or Lenten Season, we often think of vacation. Not to say that’s it’s wrong, we all deserve a long weekend, right? But what is it really for?
If you went to a Catholic school that’s pretty standard, Lenten Season officially starts on Ash Wednesday. You are taught to observe Lent by fasting, repenting or reflecting on your ways for 40 days. The culmination of which is popularly known as Holy Week that marks the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Just re-reading what I wrote, I feel guilty for not really feeling the “vibes” of the season. And I know most of us don’t. And that says a lot.
Pope Francis’ Laudato Si clearly captured the reason why we feel this disconnect. As human beings, he said, we failed to see our true place in the world. We see ourselves as something that is separate from it and not a creation that is bound with it. This is true that with modernization and technology human beings are too distracted to see and live the real meaning of life. And in effect, we neglect to see the relevance of observing Lent.
Diving deeper to the real meaning of Lent and putting it in lay’s term, it is the time Jesus went through a crisis and needed to sort things out. He went to the desert to have some quiet time. In the process, he was tempted by Satan and with his sheer faith resisted temptation. He came out unscathed and ready to face more challenges ahead. Sounds doable?
So, how can we do Lent?
I say, take that vacation. Wait, I’m not done yet! Take a vacation to a place that will let you commune with nature. Observe your surroundings and how different and good it is compared to the noisy, polluted, over-crowded cities. Take all distractions away. Be mindful. Take time to refocus your life and see how you can live more like Jesus.
Fast. Fasting can be many things. It can be fasting from over-consumption. Decluttering from stuff can be a good way to declutter your mind. Ask yourself, do I really need this? Will it make me genuinely happy? Will life end if I don’t have this? Simplify consumption to give space to things that are really important like family, friends and life experiences.
Give service with sincerity and integrity. We can all do service simply by being kind and thoughtful. Try to think about how you can be of service to your friends, family, community, church or even someone on the other side of the veil. There are a lot of service ideas that you can do like talking to someone you don’t normally talk to; donating your time and energy to good causes or people in need; or it can even be as simple as giving someone a compliment or “thank you” note. The list can go on. It doesn’t have to be big, any simple random acts of kindness will do. Whatever it is you decide to do make sure it is something that can be easily adopted into your everyday life.
Pray with action. As you take a break from the city’s hustle and bustle, find time to pray on how to become better stewards of the planet. And remember that it doesn’t stop there. What you do is more important and how you practice the things that you’ve reflected on has more impact. The power of our prayer lies greatly within us. It can only be as effective if we have the commitment to take action to make our wants, needs and hopes happen.
So this Holy Week, take a vacation, fast from over-consumption, give service and pray with action. Give yourself an opportunity for that life changing moment. It doesn’t need to be grand. You just need to be sincere and genuine about it. It is not so much on what we say we will do but how we are doing them. Remember that action speaks louder than words.
Kristina Hernandez-Pedraya is the Supporter Relations Coordinator and Joan Meris is the Public Engagement Actions Manager for Greenpeace Southeast-Asia based in the Philippines.