Letting Go of Self and Letting God In

In mid-March, I attended the Los Angeles Religious Education Congress, where St. Anthony Messenger Press introduced a new parish/school resource about the changes in the translation of the Mass. Part of our promotion included a large screen where the DVD–with yours truly as speaker–played on a continuous loop. I joked with customers that this was my Lenten penance, listening to myself for hours at a time!

There is a connection between our Lenten fasting and our own ego, our sense of self. We call it “self-denial” to give up some food or other legitimate pleasure. First and foremost, such a decision allows God to work. We set aside our own desires and make more room for God. The ego in itself isn’t bad–it’s part of us, after all. But so often we can be caught up in trying to control the world around us, letting our desires dictate our actions, that we are really saying, “It’s all about me!”

Lenten sacrifice derails such an attitude. In the space that’s left, we can begin asking questions of ourselves and God. “Who am I?” and “Who is my God?” If we’ve substituted self for God, or turned some desire or pleasure into a “god,” then the act of self-denial can become a symbolic letting go. In that moment, God can begin to show us our true self.

At the L.A. Congress, I managed to “tune out” my own voice and image, as I spoke with the visitors to our booth. But I know there are many places in life where I need to take the next step and let God in. Lent is a great time to begin a practice that must continue throughout life.