It’s Lent. Lent is a time when we Catholics do penance for our sins. That means we take punishments upon ourselves, consisting mainly of denying ourselves things that we like. We do this in a spirit of sorrow for our sins, and with the intention of making some sort of reparation.
Obviously we know that our own self-punishment cannot take away our guilt. I think the idea is something like, we admit that we are undeserving of God’s blessings, by depriving ourselves of some of them. And so we give up something we particularly like and partake of habitually, so that we feel its lack throughout the forty days.
The funny thing, though, about God’s blessings, is that we can only possibly give up a tiny fraction of them – and even then it hurts! So I give up coffee for forty days: But what do I not give up? Air, water, food, clothing, wife, children, home, the blossoming garden, the coolness of the morning, the starlit night. We’re so constantly inundated with God’s blessings that we cannot but take them for granted. Further, God blesses us far beyond what he had to bless us with. He could have given us life without giving us cool air, loved ones, flowers and starlight. But he gives us those besides.
So that even when we’re trying to deprive ourselves, he continues to bless us, constantly, relentlessly.