“What are you doing for Lent?” is a common question among Catholics. And with Ash Wednesday mere days away, hopefully we should be praying about how we will be spending our time during the sacrificial season in order to grow into a deeper relationship with Christ and prepare for Easter.
Tired of reverting back to the grade-school “I’m going to give up soda for Lent”? Here are some ideas we have of ways to sacrifice, strengthen your relationship with Christ and foster a better prayer life. If you have more, please share in the comment section.
1) Pray more – set aside time in the morning or evening for prayer. Focus on reading the Bible, listening to God, or reading a daily devotional.
2) Go to Adoration weekly – some churches have weekly Holy Hours and others even have a chapel set aside specifically for the Blessed Sacrament that’s open 24/7. Other parishes will work Adoration into their Lenten schedules. Just find the time, even for 10 minutes at a time, to go and spend the time with Jesus in this way.
3) Create a good habit – instead of giving something up, try inserting something good into your life this Lent. Are you a pessimist? Try to be more positive. Do you criticize your wife/husband, kids, co-workers a lot? Make an effort to be more encouraging.
4) Pray the Rosary daily – one of our SMS editors tried this during one Lent a few years ago and never stopped after those 40 days were over. Praying the Rosary daily is a wonderful way to meditate on the mysteries of Christ’s life and to learn more about Mary and how to emulate her piety, humble ways, trust, prayerful life, patience and charity.
5) Participate in 40 Days for Life – pray for an end to abortion by peacefully praying outside abortion clinics with others during Lent. To find a location, go here: http://40daysforlife.com/location.cfm.
6) Go to daily Mass – ok, we know that going to Mass daily is a big sacrifice but it can certainly be done and it is a beautiful way to show God how much you love Him. If your church offers it, go first thing in the morning before you start your day.
7) Volunteer – make time to volunteer once a week or at least a few times during Lent. Find an organization, like The Missionaries of Charity, Catholic Charities, or your local soup kitchen, which means something to you and give of your time.
8) Read one Psalm a day – the Psalms are a wonderful way to learn how to praise God and reading one or two daily can help us in our prayer.
9) Fast – besides fasting on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, choose one or two days a week to fast and choose a method that works for you (fasting till noon every day or on certain days, fasting from certain things like sweets or wine/beer, etc.). You will constantly be reminded in a physical way to pray.
10) Pray The Angelus daily – the Angelus is a short prayer dedicated to the Incarnation that is prayed every day at Noon. Here’s the link to get the prayer: http://www.ewtn.com/Devotionals/prayers/Angelus.htm.
11) Make time for your children – If you have kids, plan at least three or four special times just for them during Lent. Life is hectic but your family is the foundation of the Church and make sure to spend time building that up. Take your kids mini-golfing, hiking, biking, on a lunch date, or even to the local soup kitchen for a family volunteering day.
12) Give up something that you like – truly give up something that you really like, for example a certain drink/food, coffee, television, a website that you waste lots of time on (not this one though!), etc.
13) Strengthen your marriage – Did you see the movie Fireproof? It’s an awesome movie about working on marriage and in it, the husband does 40 days of selfless acts for his wife and she never figures it out until the end of the movie. There’s a book, the Love Dare, that goes along with the movie and we highly recommend it for a Lenten devotion for married couples: http://www.lovedarebook.com/.
14) Read up on your favorite Saint – find a book about your favorite saint and read it during Lent. The saints are so inspiring and the Church gives us their examples to help lead us to heaven. http://www.catholic.org/saints/
15) Give of your resources – during Lent, if you can, give a little more money to your church, your favorite charity or to the poor box.
16) Pray for priests and for the Pope – during this year of the priest, set aside time to pray especially for our priests and for our Holy Father. They all have the enormous task of shepherding the Church and we should never neglect to pray for them.
17) Go to Confession – the sacrament of Confession gives us so much grace to help avoid temptation and sin and live the lives that Christ wants us to live. Make it a priority to go to Confession 3 times during Lent.
18) Forgive – is there a person in your life you have been having trouble forgiving? Don’t hold that resentment any longer. Pray about it and ask God to help you forgive. You’ll be amazed at the burden that will be lifted from you.
So these are a few of our ideas but we want to hear from you. What are you doing for Lent?