March Madness is a yearly phenomenon.

March Madness refers to a college basketball tournament of the NCAA Division 1 college teams. Watching the tournament start with 68 teams and ending with the final evening of two, distracts many, many sports fans.

The madness is that the NCAA tournament is a single elimination event. You lose and that’s it. Goodbye!

Each year I might tune into a game or two if they are a California team. I am remotely interested in March Madness because I played basketball in grammar school and high school. I was also a girls’ freshmen basketball coach for two years at Bishop Montgomery High School, but that is a whole other story! 

March Madness can offer some insights into Lent, which begins in March for 2019 and ends with the glory of Easter on April 21.

Even though the March Madness of the NCAA tournament will distract some, Lent is not meant to be madness!

Yet Lent can feel like madness.

It can feel frustrating because we might not know how to approach it or know how to use it. And some can stand on the sidelines and ignore Lent altogether. We might not realize Lent can be spring cleaning for our spiritual selves. And Lent does not include single elimination games! Lent is meant to be meaningful not madness.

Lent is not a tournament in which we are expected to win. Lent is a process.

Lent is meant to be a season in which we make choices for change and transformation in God’s truth, choices that foster an awareness of the love and life of Jesus, choices that are a positive embrace of the tournament of life. Lent can coach us to live one day at a time in grace. Lent is not one game of win or lose. Lent is full of opportunities.

Many of us grew up learning one way of doing Lent: it was a season in which you gave up something.

Giving up something that is a pleasure is self-denial. Self-denial is an important option if it fosters a deeper awareness of God in the absence of the pleasurable something, like giving up dark chocolate. But the giving up of something doesn’t really have a value in itself.

Self-denial hopefully leads to a deeper invitation, a fuller appreciation of God’s presence, an energized awareness of Jesus as our new way, truth and life.

Another way of experiencing Lent is to choose actions of love, like giving a dollar a day to a homeless organization as a parishioner told me she was going to do. Lent invites us to give of ourselves for the sake of God’s transforming power molding us into our higher selves, becoming more the light of Jesus for others.

So how shall you partake of Lent?

It is meant to be a meaningful opportunity not a source of madness or frustration. Ask God to show you the way for a spiritual renewal or reset or upload in the truth of your highest good, your highest self.

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