The season of Lent begins Wednesday, and can you believe all the hype? Radio stations started playing all the Lent carols weeks ago and I’m so sick of them by now! Entire aisles in the Mega Mart stores have been selling all the Lent decorations at sale prices since the Epiphany! And the kids won’t stop bugging me to go and visit Lenty Claus at the mall, dressed in his purple suit and handing out ash to all the repentant girls and boys.
The commercialization of Lent has got to stop. This is supposed to be a sacred time of preparation and confession, drawing us closer to God as we look forward to Easter and the celebration of resurrection and new birth. And now our schools are cancelling their Lent Breaks, calling them instead some generic term like “Spring Break” or something. I mean, really! We all know that people take that week in order to refocus on the spiritual disciplines, fasting, praying the daily office, and deep study of scripture. Let’s just call it what it is.
It just seems like this time of year is so frantic, all the Lent parties to go to, all the Lent concerts and special events. How are we ever going to get to them all? I’m not even going to have time to go out and buy any new Lent clothes. We also need a new sprig of hyssop to hang in the front hallway. And when are we going to find time to decorate our Lenten Tree? We’re never going to have the house ready for the Holy Week Homes Tour!
Join me in decrying the secularization of Lent! Remember the rationale for the period of time. This year, let’s not give in to the consumeristic pressure we always feel, but rather remember the Lents of days gone by, when times were simpler. Consider home-made Lent cards instead of store-bought gifts. Do you really need to make that fourth dozen of tenebrae cookies, or will three dozen suffice? Remember, Lent isn’t Lent till it happens in your heart.