A few of you asked about our Lent plans that I mentioned in my March goals post, so here you go :) I want to start by emphasizing that we aren’t doing any of these things because we’re already holy…quite the opposite, actually. I battle with lukewarmness in my relationship with God, and that’s exactly why Dave and I set so many Lenten intentions–because we know we need improvement, and this is not an area we want to skimp on. Even if we don’t do all these things perfectly, I know it’ll be worth trying.
In Pope Francis’ message for Lent this year, he said “Lent is a new beginning, a path leading to the certain goal of Easter, Christ’s victory over death. This season urgently calls us to conversion. Christians are asked to return to God ‘with all their hearts’ (Joel 2:12), to refuse to settle for mediocrity and to grow in friendship with the Lord. Jesus is the faithful friend who never abandons us. Even when we sin, he patiently awaits our return; by that patient expectation, he shows us his readiness to forgive.” The part that stood out most to me is “to refuse to settle for mediocrity.” Lent isn’t about giving up chocolate or coffee or whatever just for the challenge–it’s about continued conversion, striving to grow deeper with the Lord, and not settling for mediocrity in faith as we prepare for Easter.
With that in mind, I usually prefer doing new things for Lent rather than giving things up. Fasting is important for the spiritual life, and should be practiced regularly in different ways, but during Lent, I know I personally will grow more from adding prayer time, daily Masses, etc. than I will from giving up a favorite food. And if you are giving something up? That’s great too! I would encourage you to not only give that thing up, but to replace it with something that will help you in your faith journey. One of my most challenging Lents ever was when I gave up my snooze button in favor of morning prayer. Hard, but so worth it! Now, here’s what Dave and I have decided to try this year:
- Reading Story of a Soul, Walk in Her Sandals, Heaven Starts Now, and Resisting Happiness (the last one is with our Blessed Brunch group)
- Fasting from unnecessary spending
- Reading Jesus, The Bridegroom, Heaven Starts Now, and Be a Man
- Attending daily Mass once a week
- Fasting from Facebook and Twitter
As a couple:
- Abstaining from meat on Fridays
- Praying a decade of the rosary together every night (this is a habit we want to stick to after Lent too)
- Going to Stations of the Cross at church every Friday
- Doing a joint Holy Hour (we each spend half an hour in the adoration chapel while the other of us entertains Charlie in the church, then switch off) every Wednesday
- Trading our usual Friday night TV/movies for a spiritual documentary or film (We love Nine Days that Changed the World, anything by Bishop Barron, and the Formed videos. We’re also dying to see The Original Image of Divine Mercy!)
- Fasting from Netflix (we don’t have cable, so we pretty much only watch TV shows on Netflix)
It gives me butterflies to think of how Holy Week and Easter will feel if we can stick to all, or at least most, of these things! More importantly, I hope the challenge of “going all out” for Lent will create some good new habits and routines that will help us grow in our relationships with God throughout the rest of the year (and our lives–dreaming big here!).
What are you doing for Lent? I’d LOVE to hear!