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Lent: a Time for Minimalism

For many, the season of Lent is just another time to make resolutions—usually by giving up a specific food in our diet. Lent, in its essence, is about so much more than that. Believe it or not, it is actually a season dedicated to the intentional daily exercise of Christian minimalism! Dont believe me? Take this excerpt from one of the Church’s prayers for Lent: “For you have given your children a sacred time for the renewing and purifying of their hearts, that, freed from disordered affections, they may so deal with the things of this passing world as to hold rather to the things that eternally endure.”

This “sacred time” is a reminder of who we are, a reminder of how to be in right relationship to the world, to one another, and to God. To be God’s sons and daughters is to be people who have our hearts and affections in right order. To be disciples of Christ means to follow his teaching to not “store up treasures on earth,” but to “store up treasures in heaven” (Mt 6:19-20).

Jesus says not to worry or be anxious about the things of this earthly life. Worldly possessions will pass away. And when we pass away none of it will come with us. Lent is a “sacred time” to recommit to allowing our hearts to be purified as we deal “with the things of this passing world as to hold rather to the things that eternally endure.” It is a time that teaches us about our current life so as to transform us for eternal life.

It is not a problem that we have possessions, or how many possessions we have. What matters, ultimately, for the Christian minimalist, is how we have our possessions. For those of us not in abject poverty, to purify our hearts will also require an intentional purifying of our closets, cupboards, and garages. It will require attention toward, and purification of, our calendars, our bank accounts, our relationships and leisure activities. Lent, like Christian Minimalism is about more faithfully ordering our lives around God, and thus around our identity and purpose in Christ, and at the service of our vocations among family, friends, and career. This season, and the entire Christian life, therefore, is all about one thing: putting Jesus Christ as our ultimate concern, and making everything else subject to Him and His will for us.

If you’re already practicing “Christian minimalism,” keep it up with even greater intensity during this Lenten season as you journey toward Easter. Remember especially the joy that all of this “work” is for. If you’re new to minimalism, consider Lent to be an introduction and starting point. It can be your training ground to begin orienting everything in your life away from the worldly abundance that doesn’t last, and toward the divine abundance that truly and fully satisfies for all eternity!

Prayers for a grace-filled, minimalist Lent!