Have you been lulled into Ordinary Time? Maybe not thinking about the next season? Well, it’s almost here folks, so let’s dig deep and make some plans for Lent. Traditionally there are three practices for the Lenten season: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving. The Church does not give us guidelines on Prayer, but does have them for Fasting and Abstinence. As Catholics, we also have a tradition of giving something up for Lent. I’m going to break down each area and give ideas for each. In the end, you should decide what fits within your life and where you believe God is leading you to grow during Lent. And remember, you don’t need to add “all the things”; it’s better to do one or two well than five halfheartedly.
One year I prayed the Litany of Humility. I wrote about it here and I will be praying it again this year. It brings into sharp focus what I need to work in to grow spiritually.
Another good prayer to participate in is the Mass. Besides going on Sunday, try to go another time during the week.
You might also choose to pray the Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet; either daily or a few times a week. This can be done on your own or with others.
If you do not go to Adoration or Confession regularly, this is a great time to start. I’ll talk about Confession once we enter into the season.
We are asked to fast on two days during Lent. Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. Fasting (for ages 18-59) is defined as eating one full meal and two small meals not equal to a full meal. In addition, Ash Wednesday and all Fridays in lent are days of abstinence when we (age 14 on up) do not eat meat. More detailed information can be found on the Bishop’s website.
We are always called to give to others, to help those less fortunate than ourselves and to share the abundance God has given us. During Lent we are asked to more mindful of those in need. There are many creative ways to do this. Donate one item from your household or clothing each day; collect a quarter when someone uses foul language or is disrespectful; eat a few simple meals each week and give the money saved to a soup kitchen. I’m sure you can think of other ways to give to those in need!
Giving up something
In recent years, it has become a trend that instead of giving up something we do something positive for Lent. While I agree with this in theory in practice it defeats the point of Lent. I think it’s good we suffer a bit. Do without our favorite red wine or coffee; give up a favorite food; stop listening to the radio in your car or watching television all night. Here’s the truth, Jesus dies for us. He gave up his LIFE! The small suffering of going without air conditioning in the car isn’t the worst thing in the world. It is a small reminder to be grateful for all that we have and all that we have been given, If we never do without, how will we appreciate it when we have it all? I don’t know what you need to give up. Maybe it’s unnecessary shopping or complaining or wearing makeup or playing Candy Crush on your phone.
It’s time to decide
Spend some time in the next few days praying about what to do for Lent. Ask someone close to you help you decide on a good plan. Sometimes families or couples decide on things to do together. If possible, pick one thing in each area. Ask one person to hold you accountable for your Lenten plans and check in with them each week.
In the next few days, I’m going to post my favorite Lenten books and links to some prayers that will come to your inbox. So be sure to come back or even better, sign up for my newsletter so you don’t miss posts.
Don’t forget to hop over to Catholic Women Bloggers page and see what our group has written about to help us all have a fruitful Lent.