Lent is upon us. Some of us may have realized that it comes fast after the Christmas observations. Let’s not panic. This is for anyone who needs a last-minute. Don’t worry, a brother in formation for an order at my parish gave out some great suggestions.
Lent comes from the Latin “Quadragesima” which means fortieth. For forty days, we will be making sacrifices, overcoming temptations, doing works of mercy both corporal and spiritual, and most importantly, growing closer to Jesus. The three pillars of the season are prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. Recently, a parish priest sent me a reflection on the three main pillars of the season.
Fasting counteracts the lust of the flesh or the desire for physical pleasure or comfort. Denying ourselves food and drink, we feel the pangs of hunger can help us realize in an intimate way that “One does not live on bread alone.” During Lent, it is suggested to fast until noon each day and until dinner on Wednesdays and Fridays. Drink water if the urge creeps into the mind.
Almsgiving counteracts the lust of the eyes or the desire for material things. Offering material support to those in need from our own substance helps us to appreciate that our security and safety come not from what we have and hold but from God alone, the source of every good
Finally, Prayer counteracts the pride of life or the disordered love of self. G.K. Chesterton once said, “We become taller when we bow.” In the act of prayer, we recognize that God is God and we are not.
The season begins with Ash Wednesday. Remember to fast from meat. One meal is permitted. Two snacks are allowed as needed. All Fridays of Lent include mandatory abstinence from meat. Seafood is allowed.
Lent is also a time when we challenge ourselves to be better. It is better to focus on at least two penances as opposed to taking on too many at once. When giving up something, add something that’ll improve the spiritual life.
Here is a list of suggestions of things to give up
- Secular music (faith themed is okay)
- Retail therapy (getting necessities are permitted)
- Social Media/YouTube (of limit to 15 minutes a day)
- Snacks between meals
Ideas for things to add on:
- Spiritual reading
- Read 1-3 chapters of scripture.
- Attend Mass on a weekday or two
- Consider going before or after work or class.
- Set time for mental prayer or examination of conscience.
- Read a devotional book
- Daily adoration (15 minutes 30 minutes or a full hour)
- Daily rosary
- Offer a rosary each day for people that sent a Christmas card
- Tip: Pray it during adoration and earn a partial indulgence
- Daily chaplet (Divine Mercy, St. Michael, St. Gertrude, etc)
- Pray the Stations of the Cross
- Volunteer somewhere
- Watch The Chosen and have a discussion with friends
- Pray night prayer
- Serve food to the homeless
- Participate in the 40 Days for Life campaign
- Do Marian Consecration (33 Days to Morning Glory for Annunciation feast)
The time to form new habits is now. Like Jesus in the desert, we too are challenged to overcome earthly passions to unite our sufferings and desires to the foot of the cross. As St. John the Baptist reminds us, “He must increase. I must decrease.”