24 February 2007

Lent - Meant for Sacrifice

Well, obviously its meant for much more than that. But the word "sacrifice" is one of the first to come time mind in discussing the season of Lent. "What is your Lenten sacrifice? What are you giving up for Lent? What are you offering up as penance?"

A few years ago a movie came out starring Josh Harnett called "40 Days and 40 Nights". I don't think I can sum it up much better than this tagline provided at imdb.com...
"One man is about to do the unthinkable. No sex. Whatsoever. For... 40 Days and 40 Nights"
I just couldn't believe that when I first heard it. What are we animals? Are we so severely scarred that it has become "unthinkable" to remain chaste?

I've only seen bits and pieces of the movie, but it's a pretty predictable plot. The heart-throb guy, who used to only think with his anatomy, falls in love with some groovy chick. He can't get into bed with her because of his Lenten "dare" and in turn learns to love her for who she really is is. Yadda yadda yadda. Again, I didn't see the movie but I guess Hollywood makes some kind of attempt at explaining true love.

So I started to think about it some more and I thought maybe there is some truth to labeling chastity "unthinkable". After all, the sexual act is meant to be our slice of heaven on earth. It's meant to lead us to God and help us discover the truth about Him and our very own existence. It should be unthinkable to be able to remove ourselves from that.

Now, I don't believe Josh Hartnett had that kind of understanding of his sexuality, but he knew there was something special about it. And sure enough it is in chastity, in sacrifice that he finds true love.

Trying to live chaste lives means always trying to live chaste lives. Not just for 40 days and 40 nights. But Lent can be a great time of renewal. A time to remember why we embrace such a bold task as saving ourselves for marriage; waiting to give our bodies within circumstances that show reverence to God.

The marital act is God's plan. It's His will for the two to unite in the flesh. He made us that way. But there is a time and place that He wants it to be fulfilled, and He wants to be a part of it. Outside of marriage, we basically tell Him "we don't want you here".

And so, as with Lent where we sacrifice for 40+ days in anticipation of the Lord's resurrection, we sacrifice until our wedding night in anticipation of the Lord's coming within our marriage. And just as God took the suffering of the Cross and made it the joy and glory of the Resurrection, He takes our suffering to remain chaste and brings to us the rewards of a free, total, faithful, and fruitful marriage. Heaven kisses earth.


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