Let it go … and offer it up

Photo: Javier_Art_Photography/iStock

In recent years, there have been more and more ways to sell personal items online and make a little spare cash. While we used to have to pay for classified ads in the local newspaper or tack an index card on the bulletin board in the local supermarket, today we can try to clean up our cluttered garages and attics using sites like Craigslist or eBay.

A couple of new sites have appeared in recent years, and their names really caught my attention: OfferUp and letgo.

Both OfferUp and letgo are mobile-based marketplaces, allowing users to take a picture of something with their phone and post it right away to the app. Goods are displayed based on the geo location closest to the buyer to encourage face-to-face interactions. 

The names of these apps have a lot to do with the Lenten season we Catholics start on Ash Wednesday. Let me explain.

For many readers, especially those who are older, the name of one app, OfferUp, might very well call to mind the kind of attitude we are encouraged to have, particularly when we encounter difficulties in our lives. Had a hard day at work? “Offer it up,” we might hear someone say in response. Feeling down because of the drudgery of housework? “Offer it up.” 

What does it mean to offer something up? Basically, it means that if we are bothered or annoyed or tortured by some difficulty, some inconvenience, some pain, we are invited to unite our suffering, no matter how insignificant, with the suffering of Christ on the cross. In this way, our suffering can spiritually cooperate with Jesus’ passion and death on the cross — a passion and death that won salvation for the human race.

It is the kind of thing we pray for when we make our Morning Offering: “I offer you this day all my prayers, works, joys, and sufferings … in reparation for sin, the conversion of sinners … .”

Offering something up, in fact, is a kind of prayer.

But just how do we do this? Well, for one thing, it involves a conscious decision. We have to take a certain attitude. We have to do more than just say, “Lord, I am offering this up … .” We have to decide to embrace the suffering or the sacrifice, in a way.

And that’s where the name of the second app can help: letgo. 

If someone at work wronged us in some way, and we say we’d like to offer up that injustice, would it be right to hold on to the resentment and anger we feel for that coworker? If we are bothered by a mild headache, which is interfering with the enjoyment of a Saturday morning, sure, we might let everyone around us know how terrible we feel. Or we could decide to let go of the impulse to complain and just bear it patiently. If a neighbor’s loud music on a Saturday afternoon annoys us, we could gripe about it. Or we could just endure it, and say a prayer for someone we know who hasn’t been to Mass in a long time. Or someone who suffers from depression. Or someone discerning a vocation.

So, to really offer something up, we should “let go” of the hard feelings we have. 

Easier said than done, you say. True enough. But that’s what makes it a sacrifice — much like Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. What do we pray in the second eucharistic prayer? “At the time he was betrayed and entered willingly into his Passion, he took bread (emphasis mine) … .” We can imitate Our Lord by entering willingly into the suffering something causes us, whether it’s merely unpleasant or something truly tragic.

We talk about giving things up for Lent, about making sacrifices during these 40 days. When you think about it, we really don’t have to get too fancy or look too far to find ways to practice our Lenten disciplines. In addition to fasting, especially on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, in addition to abstaining from meat on those days and all Fridays of Lent, we have a wealth of opportunities to make sacrifices all the way up to the Easter Vigil. 

May I suggest that we all pay closer attention to the daily interactions we have? What minor inconvenience, annoying coworker, or inconsiderate driver makes us want to curse or complain? Just once a day, for the next 40 days, choose one of them and, for the love of Jesus, offer it up, let go, and let God!  

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