"…yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me." (Galatians 2:20)

St. Paul's teachings and his life vividly exemplify a boundless truth: to the extent that Jesus' life within me mirrors the very essence of Christ Himself, I must willingly surrender and let those aspects "of me" that fall short of Christ's perfection fade away. In short, I must die to myself.

I must lay to rest those facets of myself that are not in harmony with the Jesus living within me, so that I may be continually renewed and transformed to resemble Christ more closely. This process does not entail the annihilation of my identity; instead, it involves a purposeful letting go of the parts of me that miss the mark, those elements that require pruning, so that my true identity can fully embrace and reflect the essence of my Lord and Savior.

At first glance, this task may appear daunting. However, as St. Paul reminds us in Galatians, such a release is attainable when we act in faith of our Lord, acknowledging that He has our utmost well-being at heart and that His love for us surpasses our understanding. This realization encourages us so that we might hold onto Him evermore. For example, the Sacrament of Marriage, which is a sacrament of service and mission, calls for a self-sacrificial love. The role of a spouse is fundamentally ordered toward assisting their partner on their journey to heaven. This requires us to set aside our selfish desires and deliberately pursue the good of our spouse. We can achieve this by remaining attentive and seeking out opportunities to serve, love, and show mercy within the marriage.

"Man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself." (Gaudium et Spes)

The essence of dying to oneself is inherently oriented towards "the other." This act of self-sacrifice is a profound gesture of giving oneself either to God or to one's neighbor. As highlighted in the above quote, the very nature of humanity is crafted for self-gift; we are designed to seek the good of others as a means to fulfill our greatest happiness.

Identifying the parts of ourselves that fall short of Christ's example and require refinement can begin with a straightforward question: "What impedes my ability to serve or love others and God?"

Could my excessive phone usage be detracting from time better spent offering my full and undivided attention elsewhere? Do I neglect or deprioritize tasks requested by my spouse, such as household projects, vehicle maintenance, or overly indulge in watching television? Do I make it a priority to express love in the way that resonates most deeply with my spouse? Am I steadfast in my prayer life? Do I regularly immerse myself in Scripture?

There are numerous areas where we might seek improvement, and engaging in prayer is the most effective way to address them. I encourage you to invite the Holy Spirit to illuminate the aspects of your life that require refinement. Rest assured, He will answer your call.

"If anyone wishes to come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." (Luke 9:23)

In this Lenten season, I invite you to reignite your desire to more closely mirror Christ. Dedicate time for a sincere reflection on your habits, priorities, and how you allocate your time, and embark on the transformative journey of self-denial. Remember, Jesus has your utmost well-being at heart, and He will not lead you astray. Trust in the promise that this path will bring you to your deepest joy. May you embrace the precious opportunity Lent offers to cultivate virtuous habits and a renewed sense of death to self.

Jeremy Lezniak — SFA Theologians Guild Member