The Lenten season is upon us! Next Wednesday, February 14 is Ash Wednesday, which begins the 40-day season of Lent, a period of self-sacrifice and self-gift that culminates in Holy Week and is fulfilled in Easter. Lent has always been one of my favorite seasons, in part because it’s an opportunity to push a little harder and grow a little more. The Church gives us three spiritual disciplines to center our lives around during Lent, so as to grow in our desire for God and in imitation of Jesus. Of course, those three disciplines are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.
The first question that comes to mind during Lent is, “What should I give up?” Sometimes people prefer to do things in Lent rather than give something up, but I would say both are important. Giving something up helps us to learn discipline and self-denial, something that helps us keep our lives focused on Jesus and detached from the things of the world. However, we also recognize that Lent is not just about letting go, but also clinging to Christ! So doing something extra during Lent is also helpful to grow in a spirit of discipleship and following after the example given by Christ. I would really challenge you to embrace one of each of the disciplines: prayer (trying to grow closer in relationship to God), fasting (detaching ourselves from worldly pleasures), and almsgiving (the free gift of ourselves).
Still not sure what you’re going to do for Lent? Here are a few suggestions:
- Give up snacks between meals
- Go to daily Mass once a week
- Give up listening to music in the car
- Give up texting and driving
- Have a meaningful conversation with someone every day
- Give up complaining
- Pray the “Litany of Humility” every day
- Read a spiritual book
- Give up arriving late to Mass or leaving early
- Clean out your closet and donate clothes to the poor
- Go on a walk every day and pray the Rosary
- Give up saying “God” or “Jesus” outside of prayer
- Memorize 1 Corinthians 13: 1-7 and pray it each day
- Drink only water (except maybe coffee, so you don’t hurt anyone)
- Write a letter to someone each day
- Give up warm water during showers (not for the faint of heart!)
- Read a daily Lenten reflection (like the ones in the books we’re giving away!)
- Learn about a particular social issue (immigration, racism, child poverty, abortion)
- Commit to singing the songs and Mass parts (unless you go to 8:00!)
- Make a genuine compliment to someone you work with every day
That’s about all I could come up with right now, but I hope it helps! Pray about what to give up and do extra during Lent and stick with it!