An artist friend of mine was troubled by Lent. She didn’t think it was healthy to spend all that time thinking about your faults. But this is not a random guilt-fest. This is a period of forty days (to remind us of Jesus’s forty days in the wilderness) for self-examination, followed by a joyful celebration. I think this particular woman fretted about her shortcomings throughout the year. How much healthier to have a limited time of self-examination set aside!
Nor is it self-loathing. People who make themselves miserable by obsessing about their flaws are generally thinking about how different they are from Jessice Alba or the cool guy in the frat, not how different they are from Jesus. There is no spiritual benefit there.
Lent is traditionally a time for self-examination, a time to consider how we ought to improve our behavior. But there any many other things to contemplate as well. Many people contemplate the sufferings of Christ, particular teachings of the church, or injustices in the world which we might alleviate.
Here are some passages to contemplate today: