Lent is literally hours away!! I love the different seasons of the church year and Lent is no exception. While Lent can be considered a dry liturgical season, without the alleluia or Glory to God, it is beautiful just the same. It is only through periods of penance and emptiness that we can truly see the need to be filled by Christ and His Church. And what’s more, it shows us in concrete ways the very love that Christ has for each of us through His Passion. By making ourselves a part of Christ’s Lenten suffering for forty days, we can share in His pain as a church united.
Seeing that tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, I thought it would be fun to do a little ‘Things to Do/Give Up for Lent’ list. I seem to always decide on my Lenten activities today anyway, so maybe I’m not the only one!!
Note: Because we are trying our best to partake in Christ’s sufferings, we could all do Him a favor and go a little beyond just giving up chocolate or pop for the fifth year in a row. After all, He gave his life, which is no small sacrifice.
Now let’s begin with the list! I’ve divided this list into two topics; Things to do and things to give up. I always find that doing extra spiritual activities during Lent can have as much, if not more, merit than the traditional sacrifices.
To Do Ideas:
Say the morning offering every day: I can’t think of a better way to start your day than by dedicating it to Jesus and Mary. It only takes a few seconds and you have given Christ all of your day’s joys and sufferings. You can find morning offerings in most Catholic prayer books or online. You can find a morning offering at the following website:https://www.ewtn.com/Devotionals/prayers/morning2.htm
Read the Psalms everyday: By reading four Psalms every day, you can completely make your way through these beautiful chapters before Lent is over. Seeing that many of the psalms talk about penance and waiting on the Lord, this particular book of the Bible is a wonderful Lenten read.
Read the Gospels: If you read approximately 2 chapters of the Gospels every day of Lent (including Sundays) you will have successfully finished all four of the Gospel accounts.
Do a holy hour each week: While it may not be an option for some people, many churches have adoration chapels, making it easy to adore Jesus in the form of Consecrated Bread at any time of the day. Even if your church does not have an adoration chapel, Christ is always present in the tabernacle and waiting for your prayers.
Pray the Rosary and/or Divine Mercy Chaplet: Two of the most beautiful collections of vocal prayers, these are easy to say in the car or really anywhere.
Keep a prayer journal for 40 days: Whether you write your thoughts on Father’s homily, a favorite bible verse written in beautiful handwriting, or just a personal commitment to God that you put into words, Journaling is a beautiful time set aside for prayer.
Serve: Service can be as simple as doing the dishes at your house or making dinner. Most cities have soup kitchens, as well, so that is another good service opportunity. The possibilities here are endless.
Not To Do Ideas:
Give up the snooze button: Is your average number of Snooze button hits getting higher? SAME!! This would be a good one for most people, especially if you could get some extra prayer or reading done in the now empty ‘snooze button gap’.
Only drink straight tea or coffee: As a strong believer in the power of creamer and mocha, this would be a very big sacrifice!!!
Give up complaining/ judging/ procrastinating/ negativity/ criticizing etc.: Maybe Lent is the time of year to try and break some bad habits. And just because it is a Sunday, or Lent is over, we can still try and keep up with those resolutions.
Give up listening to the radio: Without the extra noise while you drive or do activities around your house, you might find it easier to pray a rosary or chaplet. You could also replace radio time by listening to a good Catholic podcast.
Give up texting and call people instead: While texting is a wonderful tool, its availability has diminished peoples need to have true, authentic conversations with the people we care about. Who knows, maybe a simple call could brighten a friend’s day and promote a friendly conversation.
Give up social media: This could be a toughie but we can all use a good old detox every once and a while.
I hope these ideas helped and bring you closer to a blessed start of this Lenten season.