Home / Stories / Seeing Clearly: Jesus Not Java

Seeing Clearly: Jesus Not Java


Editor’s note: As part of FMS’ 2018 Lenten blog series, Graphic Design Associate Alessia Catena shares her reflections on giving up caffeine.

I never ever thought I would give up coffee for Lent, let alone all caffeinated products.

It all started a couple weeks ago when I was on the phone with Chris, my fiancé, and we were brainstorming what he could give up for Lent. I was suddenly reminded of how attached he is to caffeine, so I dared to make the suggestion of giving it up. He laughed, as if I were joking, and tried to switch topics. But I was serious. I started to list the reasons for why it would be good for him and how much it would improve his physical, mental, and spiritual health, with each reason building on the last. As he tried to counter-argue every point I made, I was getting more confident in my argument and more insistent on his submission to it.

Suddenly, I felt that little voice of the Holy Spirit deep inside me, nudging me: “Now that you’ve made such a big case for it, you kinda have to do it too.” Then I sort of regretted the whole ordeal, because I knew I couldn’t ignore that voice. I hadn’t thought too much about what I, personally, wanted to do for Lent, but I knew then that God had something planned.

I explained this all to Chris, including the fact that, while I understood if he wasn’t ready to give up caffeine, I was going to do it myself. He wasn’t expecting that, so once he knew I was serious, he started to consider it. (And is now doing it with me!)

Over the next few days I reflected more on what it would really mean to give up caffeine.

It’s something I depend on for strength, focus, productivity, motivation, and even joy. But aren’t these all things that I should be depending on the Lord for more than anything else?

An absence of caffeine would not go unnoticed in my day to day activities. Therefore, what if every time I didn’t feel strong, focused, productive, motivated, or joyful, I turned to God (instead of a cup of coffee) for support? And even further, what if I lifted up those who don’t have the privilege of getting a good night’s sleep or the option to sit and enjoy a hot beverage in the morning? Being fatigued myself reminds me to pray for people who are suffering more and who have to push through without help.

I used to think that consuming caffeine would make me see things more clearly, that drinking a warm cup of coffee would make the whole day go smoothly. But this Lent I’m praying for clarity from the Lord as His words from the Gospel of Matthew come to mind: “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.” It’s holding on to the things we cling to most that imprison us, and it’s in surrendering those things that truly brings us freedom.

Reflection question: What is something that the Lord is calling you to remove from your life in order to make more room for Him?

In May 2017, Alessia graduated from The College of Saint Rose in Albany, New York with a BFA in graphic design. As the DC Service Corps Graphic Design Associate, Alessia enjoys being part of a team and communicating her faith through art and design. Through each project she is finding new ways to express the Franciscan charism, as she learns something new every day.