To many people the message of Lent seems crazy. In a competitive culture where the message is 'enjoy yourself' and get the biggest, the newest and the best, prayer, self-sacrifice and giving to the needysound increasingly silly.
But the Gospel at Mass last Sunday finished with message, "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect." For those who want to take that message seriously, Lent is the time to start your training.
Jesus was not trying to make life difficult. But he was saying that you can aim to become a hero or a saint - and not just a gatherer to things. And believing that, you become a rebel against the competitive culture that is crushing too many young people.
The dominant culture says "I must put me first". But all the evidence is saying that there is no future for the planet if everybody thinks only of 'number one.
By prayer, fasting and giving to the needy we can look beyond the plastic Me - and let God unpack the beauty of the real Me.
So, the Lenten practices are not just doing something or doing without something.
It is responding to God's invitation to become a wonderful person. It is a time to die to the more destructive parts of ourselves so that we can know Resurrection and not just Easter eggs. Lent invites us to grow by seeking freedom from the urge to buy and have and by refusing to just look after Me.
By prayer, fasting and giving to the needy we can look beyond the plastic Me – and let God unpack the beauty of the real Me.