Today’s guest blogger is Nick Luken, a second-year student at The Ohio State University, majoring in English and minoring in professional writing. Nick graduated from Roger Bacon, a Franciscan high school in Cincinnati, in 2012.
One of my family’s classic catch phrases that has stuck with me for a long time is “offer it up.” It was basically my parents’ go-to phrase for teaching us that sometimes we couldn’t get what we wanted. If we complained about having to get up early for Mass, they’d tell us to offer it up. If we whined that we didn’t like what we were having for dinner, they’d tell us to offer it up. It was the same thing every time one or more of us kids complained about something we didn’t want to do: offer it up.
Looking back, I find it funny that I never knew precisely what Mom and Dad meant when they said to offer it up. I knew basically what it meant, that we should stop complaining if we didn’t want to get in trouble. But until I got older, it didn’t hit me just how profound the idea of “offering it up” is.
Literally, “offering it up” means offering our suffering up to God. That idea is mind-boggling to me! Every time my parents told us the family catch phrase, they were telling us to offer our pain and suffering (as small as it was!) to God– the same way that we offer God our attendance at Mass or our personal prayer. What a way to put suffering in perspective! I don’t know if they realize this or not, but by telling us to “offer it up,” my parents taught my siblings and me to look at our trials as offerings to God.
“Offer it up” is an especially good phrase to live by during Lent.
Really, all our Lenten praying, fasting, and almsgiving is just a special way to offer our lives up to God during this time of year. Lent is certainly a time of suffering. I mean, this is the season of self-denial, the season when we remember the crucifixion, the saddest tragedy ever to take place on Earth. But our suffering is not purposeless. Whenever we struggle with our Lenten commitments, all we’ve got to do is offer it up.