As my friend Dan Thompson, who blogs at Apprentice to Jesus [One of the few blogs I read daily without exception], explains

Growing up and not celebrating Lent I had the impression it was a time where Catholics gave up meat or sweets. They could live like the world every other time of the year, but for Lent they had to “give up” something. It was just about the “giving up.”

The more I’ve grown in disciplines like fasting the more I realize the misconceptions I carried about this season. Fasting is not just about “giving up” food. Lent is not just about “giving up” something.

It is about “clearing the decks” of our minds and hearts so we can hear once again the voice of our Savior just a bit more clearly. Lent is not about sacrifice for the sake of being dour. It is a call to help our hearts to tune in once again. Just take a break! Breathe!

In the “giving up” we need to realize the reward of those choices. We give up to once again turn our hearts more clearly toward the Lord. Look fully in his face. Hear his voice once again. It’s a time to reset the compass. That isn’t a dour exercise. It leads us to joy.

I am asked “why” about Lent more than any other liturgical season. No one ever ask me about Advent or Pentecost. I get the occasional question about Holy week. Lent however, is more confronting. I suspect the discipline of going with out strikes a chord in us for better or worse. I sympathise with people who think Lent is little more than a superstitious Catholic tradition; however,  it is not. Over the past few years I have enjoyed journeying through Lent with Jesus as he makes his way to the cross. At times it has been confronting personally but I would not trade the season of shadows for anything for in them I saw the light…