Life is filled with choices. Do you want chocolate ice cream or vanilla? A hamburger or pizza? The blue coat or the red one?

Should I complete a college degree or acquire a specific marketable skill or a trade. Should I take this job or that one, this career opportunity or another? Should I make a commitment now and marry someone that seems to be the love of my life or should I wait and give this important decision more time for reflection.

 Jesus talked about choices.

 In John 8:31-32, “If you remain in My word, you will truly be My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” In these words did Jesus speak about the most important choice of all. We might ask ourselves if we are free, or may rationalize that we are free enough. We may wonder why it is that so many people are not free.

It may be safe to say that our level of freedom is directly connected to the world in which we live, and the very real distractions, difficulties and worldly desires, that challenge our Spirituality and the faith we embrace. How can we also, in the words of Jesus, “belong to what is above,” and experience the world as something that cannot hold us.

As we begin the season of Lent, we are once again faced with questions such as these as we reflect upon the opportunity for Spiritual growth. For many people, Lent is a favorite time of year; a time of a collective decision made by many people in the world, to grow closer to God. What will this Lenten season be for us as we make our own personal choices for Spiritual renewal? 

For most people Lent is a childhood teaching. We learn in a small yet significant way, the meaning of sacrifice, giving to others and the value of prayer. As a child we may have given up our favorite TV show, or candy or soda. As we matured during our elementary school years we may have spent time helping family or neighbors, visiting the lonely or helping the poor. The seeds of faith were born.

Good and lasting values are formed within us as children through our families, our Church, parish Religious Education and Catholic schools. So grateful am I for the teaching and example of the Dominican nuns who played a significant role in my education during my elementary school years.

As a child I remember sitting in my room upstairs, hearing the faint dialog of my favorite TV show which my siblings were watching downstairs. Like many families, we did not have a big house, and there was only one TV. As I sat there doing my homework, while missing my favorite show, I realized that I could survive without “my” favorite things. 

The choice of a Lenten journey and prayer, fasting and almsgiving is ours. May we all grow closer to God this Lenten season. May we remember more often those who will never have a choice between chocolate and vanilla ice cream, a hamburger or pizza or a blue coat or a red coat. At the end of our Lenten journey, may we find renewed faith, hope and Spiritual strength through a deeper understanding and realization that “the truth will set us free.” Surely we can embrace the favorite things of God.

Greta MacKoul, Catholic Lay Chaplain at Cape Cod Hospital, is a parishioner of Christ the King Parish in Mashpee.