"You must remember, professor," Father Hall continued, "that one of the sweetest ways in which we can show our love for a person is with gifts. We always say, 'It isn't the value of the gift; it's the spirit of the giver that matters.' That's why trifles wrapped round with love are much more precious than tiaras or mink coats given lovelessly.
"The giving of a gift to God is all we mean by sacrifice. In the Old Law the Jews gave Him cattle and bread and wine. We Catholics give Him His divine Son in the Mass. But we want to give Him something that we would personally like for ourselves. So we sacrifice cigars or wine or candy or the movies. We say, '0 God, I'll give them up just to show that I do love You.' And the harder we find it to give them up, the more precious they will be to our Father.
''It's perfectly true that God is made no happier by our giving Him a chocolate malted milk or a stick of chewing gum or a highball. God isn't likely to find use for any of those things. But it means a lot that we, His children, want to give Him the things we fain would hug to our own selfish hearts. We give Him what we somehow very much want."
"Tell her, Father," said Bradley, taking a penultimate sip of his brandy.
"Only this, Mrs. Harrison: that during Lent we imitate the saints just a little. We train ourselves to give up the good things of the world just to prove that we can. Good things have a way of mastering us. Good living and good food and good drink, riches and comfort and amusements, have a way of making men slaves. God meant us to enjoy them. He never meant them to be a substitute for Himself. Nor did He mean them to make us so weakly greedy that we would do anything, even commit sin, rather than be without them.
"Lent comes, and we give up some of our good food, some of our good times, some of our leisure and recreation, just to prove that we can be trusted. We master them for a few brief weeks so that they may not master us for life. We give up voluntarily so that we may not be held slaves. We lay aside deliberately so that we may resume those lovely gifts of God, not as slaves of habit, but of our own free will. We give up our glass of brandy so that drink may never hold us captive. We give up the theatre so that we may not be slaves of a good time. We abstain from food, not merely because we want to prove that we are masters even of what we eat and drink, but because we want to test our wills.
"If we can't give up a beefsteak, are we sure we could give up some powerful temptation? If we can't conquer our appetite for a big luncheon, could we be trusted to conquer our appetite for some forbidden person? If we can't get along without an egg for breakfast, are we sure we could hold back our hand from a jewel which we could take with no one's be the wiser? Lent is a time when we prove ourselves trustworthy. More than that: if Lent is well carried through, it is a time when we make ourselves trustworthy."
-from "I Don't Like Lent" by Fr. Daniel A. Lord, S.J. Imprimatur 1937 (A small pamphlet in story form telling of a group of people gathered around a fireplace discussing Lent with a priest. Very entertaining in a charmingly vintage way, informative and explanatory in a timeless solidly Catholic way.)