Regnum Christi

3 Lenten Sacrifices I’m Not Stopping

Lent is a traditional time of making sacrifices in order to shed attachments to the world and come closer to Christ.  The paradox of the cross, however, can reveal that what seemed to be a sacrifice is actually a gift.  This is true of my experience with three sacrifices I have made during lent over the past several years which have become sources of joy and companions on my journey into the celebration of the Resurrection.


1. Sacrificing negative thoughts and being offended


As a sanguine-choleric personality type, I don’t naturally tend toward the negative. However, the world wears on all of us.  Just before Lent I happened upon a video by Fr. Mike Schmitz of Ascension Presents:

Our culture incessantly demands that we take offense and rage against something or someone.  This wears all of us down, even those born with rose-colored glasses.  The angst of the culture can seep into our own relationships, making us overly sensitive to people in our lives and suspicious of the intentions of those around us, whether or not they meant to offend us.  Examining myself, I saw this at times in subtle ways that I reacted to my spouse, to other people, and even to myself. 


So for lent, I gave up being offended and harbouring negative thoughts about anyone.  In the first few days, when I caught that sneaky irritation rising up in my thoughts, I immediately stopped it and simply told myself (literally in these words… but silently;-)) ” Nope. I gave up being offended for Lent.  I gave up negative thoughts. I am dropping this at the cross. It’s Jesus’ problem.”


It was incredibly liberating.  Sometimes I almost felt a physical relief, like letting go of something that was suffocating me so I could breathe again.  Whatever was offending me was in God’s hands. It became his problem, not mine, and I was free to choose to love and be happy.


Was this simplistic and naive?  I don’t think so.  It’s not that I didn’t recognize problems, and some of them were BIG problems… but instead of letting them generate bitterness and resentment, I exercised the discipline of releasing them to God’s loving care.  For me, it was an experience of being child-like.  And now that it’s Easter, I don’t want to grow up and grow out of that.


2. Sacrificing the use of my cell phone when I am with other people


The first time I really noticed how cell phones isolate us was during a papal audience in St Peter’s Square a few years back. I had the gift of being there among thousands of enthusiastic Catholics on a warm sunny morning as the Holy Father rode through the crowds in the pope-mobile.  Everyone had their phones outstretched, and as he rode past them, literally a few feet away, their eyes were on their phones and the pictures they were getting, instead of on the pope himself.  Pope Francis was practically the only person who was truly present to those around him in that moment, with no screen as a barrier between those he was greeting and himself.


Over the next few years, I’d notice this in other places.  The line at the grocery store.  The subway.  My kids’ soccer games.  Even my own kitchen. 


This lent I decided I would no longer let my cell phone take my attention away from the people who were physically in front of me.   I resolved not to use my phone when I was in the presence of other people that I could be paying attention to.  As soon as I made the resolution I learned what an addictive habit I had.  The urge to check texts, email and social media at the first hint of downtime was really strong.  I also became more aware of people using their phones in front of me and how it made me feel (good thing for lenten resolution #1… see above).  Even if I was only around people I didn’t know, the black hole of my iPhone was still sucking my connection with the world around me into a digital void. 


When I put my phone away, I noticed more details about the people around me. I smiled at them more, I anticipated their needs better, and I discovered things I would have missed if I wasn’t paying attention.


Since Christ used Lent to break this chain, I’m going to stay free, and continue to enjoy the real world and my present company!


3. Slowing down and sacrificing the need to rush


This is a sacrifice that was given to me, not one I chose.  Several years ago, as Lent began I had to have a surgical procedure done – nothing serious or life-threatening, but something that needed to be attended to. I had never had surgery before, and my doctor told me that I would need a six-week recovery. I think I actually laughed out loud when she said this.  I mean, I have 6 kids, an international student from China, a full-time job, and a crazy Goldendoodle at home (Chester- as in Chesterton).  I told my doctor I was sure I’d bounce back well, and took 3 weeks off work instead.  I should have known what was behind the little smile she responded with, but again, good thing for lenten sacrifice #1….


The surgery went well, but I reacted badly to the anesthesia and pain medications- getting really sick.  This kept me in the hospital for a longer stretch, and in bed at home when I had expected to be back up and out.  I slowed down–a lot. Thanks to friends who helped with meals and teenage children who helped with driving and grocery shopping, Paul and I were able to keep life moving, but it was slower.


For the first couple of weeks, I was frustrated. I realized 3 weeks off work wasn’t going to cut it; I ended up being out just over a month.  The more I tried to speed things up, the more tired I got.  When I felt a surge of energy and used it to do something crazy like go grocery shopping, I was laid up for the next 2 days.


As time went on, I got the picture. God wanted me to slow down.  And he wanted me to slow down peacefully, not with bitterness and frustration.  It was a really big adjustment for me.  I realized how much of my energy I had been putting into doing more in less time, so I would have more time to do even more. 


When I accepted the need to slow down, I was pretty sure things were going to fall apart at the seams.  They didn’t.  I learned that though I could usually do things quite well at the pace I had been used to, when I slowed down, when I paused, I made space for God to act in ways that my rushing had prevented before. 


I had feared that slowing down would mean I was doing less for Christ in my life, but I realized that some of the people I know who have the greatest impact on others, who share their faith most generously, and who transmit Christ’s love most gracefully, do so at a calm and peaceful pace.  They are about being more than they are about doing, and that ‘being’ changes the world around them.  My slower lenten pace gave me the chance to correct my speed of living, and focus more on being present in the moment.  It’s a bit like the way I have experienced latin cultures, putting time at the service of living instead of shoving living into efficient and effective increments of time. 


All three of these sacrifices were transformed into gifts, but they require me to be diligent in not going back to my old habits.  I’m up for that challenge.  I’m also very grateful for a lent that is going to continue to bear fruit and help me grow and live in Christ’s love in new ways, resurrected through his transformative power.

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Alex Kucera


Alex Kucera has lived in Atlanta, GA, for the last 46 years. He is one of 9 children, married to his wife Karmen, and has 3 girls, one grandson, and a granddaughter on the way. Alex joined Regnum Christi in 2007. Out of the gate, he joined the Helping Hands Medical Missions apostolate and is still participating today with the Ghana Friendship Mission.

In 2009, Alex was asked to be the Atlanta RC Renewal Coordinator for the Atlanta Locality to help the RC members with the RC renewal process. Alex became a Group Leader in 2012 for four of the Atlanta Men’s Section Teams and continues today. Running in parallel, in 2013, Alex became a Team Leader and shepherded a large team of good men.

Alex was honored to be the Atlanta Mission Coordinator between 2010 to 2022 (12 years), coordinating 5-8 Holy Week Mission teams across Georgia. He also created and coordinated missions at a parish in Athens, GA, for 9 years. Alex continues to coordinate Holy Week Missions, Advent Missions, and Monthly missions at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Cumming, GA.

From 2016 to 2022, Alex also served as the Men’s Section Assistant in Atlanta. He loved working with the Men’s Section Director, the Legionaries, Consecrated, and Women’s Section leadership teams.

Alex is exceptionally grateful to the Legionaries, Consecrated, and many RC members who he’s journeyed shoulder to shoulder, growing his relationship with Christ and others along the way. He knows that there is only one way, that’s Christ’s Way, with others!