If you have been a fan of Be Transfigured Ministries for a while, then you know how much I dislike the term “sacrifice” when it is used in terms of our Great Lenten Journey. The word, which has Latin roots, has the meaning of “to be made or to become holy” or we could say “to be sanctified.” It isn’t about self-abuse or torture. It doesn’t even require death. Remember the ancient Jews also sacrificed wheat and oil and wine to God in the Temple, not just turtle doves and calves. So, using the proper understanding of sacrifice, then my question today as we approach the end of the second week of our Great Lenten Journey is, “Do you feel holy?”
Do you feel that you have changed at all during the first two weeks of Great Lent? Do you feel closer to God? Do you feel more at peace with the world? Does you body feel different from the change of diet? These are all benefits we can gain from engaging in Great Lent. The unfortunate thing is that “most” people, even those who fast each year for Great Lent, experience this season somewhat in auto-pilot. We fast like we did every other year, even bringing out old recipes to camouflage the fact our food has not meat and cheese etc. Other than the fact that we know we are in Great Lent, we otherwise don’t experience any change to our lives, let alone our souls. If that is your case today, then it can be safe to say, you’re doing Lent all wrong.
You may be following all the rules and attending all the extra Church services, but something is missing. Maybe even, you’ve reached a spiritual plateau. When we reach a plateau at the gym we are taught to push through it. We learn that our bodies have grown immune to the workout, and we are told that if just stick with it, we will notice our bodies “catching up” to our workout. Then progress will again continue. The same can be the case with our spiritual journey.
If you find yourself in this situation today, or any day of your Great Lenten Journey, consider meeting with your spiritual father and making as assessment. Maybe you’re missing something along the way each week. Maybe, and this I suspect is often the case, the devil is working to derail your journey. Nothing bothers the devil more than when we grow closer to Christ. If he can trick us into thinking we are making all this effort with no progress, he might convince us to give up all together. We may even feel spiritually paralyzed with no hope of ever making any progress. It doesn’t help when we watch our ninety-year-old grandparents eating lentils and doing dozens of prostrations with never a hint of regret. We wonder if we will ever love Great Lent like they do.
Instead of being intimidated by the yiayias, (like the experts at the gym) we can look at their joy during Great Lent to know they must have struggled when they were young. If they can push through it, so can we. It’s just a plateau.