Ancient Catholic tradition teaches all we need to know about Lent. It stands upon three pillars. The first is mortification. The Latin root of this word – mortis – translates as death. A mortification is a death. To what? Not our physical life, but to the life of any desire or inclination that does not lead us to God or weakens our love of God.
Of course, anything in God’s lovely world can impede or weaken our way to Him. Not because they are evil (of course, sometimes they are, viz., sin), but precisely because they are so good. The temptation is to love them, or prefer them, more than God. Therein lies our great struggle. Therein lies the necessity of mortification: putting to death anything that competes with God lest those things become gods. Isn’t that the meaning of the First Commandment? This Lent, scrutinize carefully all those things you love to look at, listen to, touch, smell, or take delight in tasting. Do you covet any of those things more than God? If so, they must be tamed. Never can they become God’s rival. Mortify them.
In St. Escriva’s words: “Anything that does not lead you to God is an obstacle. Tear it out, and throw it far away from you”.