Every time Lent comes around, the perfectionist in me starts showing its face more than usual. I always start the season with the intention of doing more than just giving up chocolate or something simple like that, but sometimes I go a little overboard with my Lenten commitments and end up having to ease up on some of them.
I’m sure I’ll always have this impulse to aim higher than I can reasonably go, even though I’ve learned to temper my expectations and avoid getting down on myself when I fail. My perfectionism doesn’t just apply to what I do during Lent, though. It also applies to the way I do things, which in some ways is even more powerful.
As we hear during the Gospel at every Ash Wednesday, Jesus wants us to “Take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them.” Instead, we are to pray, fast, and give alms without anyone noticing, so that the Lord, the only one who will notice when we do things that way, will repay us in heaven.