by Ken Rolheiser
Don’t Give Up Chocolate for Lent

A radical thought for Lent - Be an angel! Lent is the time we should do things for God. But it is also a time God wants to do things for us.

An example comes to mind. A senior in our parish was ill. It was my privilege to take communion to her some Sundays as part of our ministry team. I decided to visit her during the week since I did not necessarily see her every Sunday, and the weeks get long when you are ill.

Unknown to me, her daughters were in her room discussing their mother’s condition. “We need to contact someone.” “It is time to do something. Who should we call?” Just at that moment I walked into the room. I got to be an angel that day. 

It was time to call a priest for the anointing of the sick. She was certainly sick. Even though our parish priest was away we called a good priest from the church next door. God’s plan for our friend was back on track. In order to to answer prayer requests, sometimes God needs us to be disciples.

In an article entitled “Don’t Give Up Chocolate for Lent” Suzanne Anderson tells us how she looks forward to Lent. Imagine that! It is like her March birthday. It takes planning for everything to turn out great! 

“Lent is not a diet plan,” Anderson says. “Lent was not thought up by the Seafood Council of America. Lent is not a conspiracy to force you to go to church more than once a week for no reason, so that you end up resenting church so much by Easter, that you don’t darken the door again until Christmas Eve.” 

Instead of giving up something for Lent, Anderson suggests, “join me in leaning in for Lent.” Her word choice sparked a memory about the need to be propped up when we lean. Why not ask God to strengthen us where we are weak this Lent.

An old farmer used to pray, “Lord, prop us up on our leanin’ side.” Someone asked him why he prayed that prayer so fervently. He explained that his old barn had weathered life’s storms, heat and hard times. But it started leaning. He propped it up on the leanin’ side so it wouldn’t fall.

“We are like that old barn,” he explained. Having withstood life’s storms and hard times, we find ourselves leaning at times. It might be leaning toward anger, bitterness, hatred, or cussing. So we need to pray, “Lord, PROP us up on our leaning side, so we will stand straight and tall again, to glorify the Lord.” (

Anderson leaves us with an excellent plan of action. If we need a prayer model, we cannot do better than the Lord’s Prayer: “Give thanks to God for everything in your life and for your heavenly Father.

“Ask for your needs, your daily bread. Ask God to forgive your shortcomings, just as you forgive others in your life. Pray that God will keep you safe as you go through the world. Finish by thanking God again and acknowledging that his is the power, the glory, and honor, forever. Amen!”

Another simple but powerful plan to grow spiritually this Lent and beyond is to make a little progress every day. In forty days we can be a little closer to God. And isn’t that our goal as Christians? 

(575 words)