As we commence the season of Lent once again it can be both easy and difficult to enter the holy season. It’s easy because we’ve done it before; it’s hard because we wonder how it is any different from last year. The traditional tenants of Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving seem easy on paper, but difficult to live out in our everyday life. How can you make this Lent special besides just giving up chocolate? Here’s some ideas using the three tenants of Lent as a basis:
Prayer: We have a lot of things in our life that need prayer. Family, friends, the world, and our city (say some extra prayers!). This Lent, make a prayer list. Every Sunday take 10 minutes and write down the things you want to lift in prayer that week. It will help your prayer be focused and come Holy Week you’ll be surprised at how many people and how many situations you’ve lifted in prayer to God.
Fasting: The perennial question: What should I give up for Lent? Lots of people give up chocolate, sweets, alcohol or something else for Lent and that’s great! But if you’ve done that for the past five years and you’re feeling bored with it you can always change it up. Don’t be afraid to give up new things; don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.
Almsgiving: This is can relate to your fasting. Let’s say you go our every Friday night with your friends and you spend on average of $60 each time you go out. A Lenten practice could be to abstain from spending the money that you would normally spend on drinks and donate the money to Catholic Relief Services or Catholic Charities. You’ll be surprised at how much money you end up giving to help those most in need.
This Lent, allow yourself to dive more deeply into the mysteries of the season and don’t be afraid to challenge yourself.
Fr. Michael Trail is the associate pastor of St. Damian Catholic Church in Oak Forest.