Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Our Lenten Journey
Tomorrow we begin another journey towards holiness if we allow ourselves this privilege. Our journey during Lent should be one filled with much hope and joy. It would be a very sad thing if we see this time in a negative light. We will also be cheating ourselves if we simply resolve to give up one thing for Lent. As children we were taught to give up candy or give up television during the Lenten season. But how many of us were truly taught the reasons why? "...When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.." St. Paul's Letter to the Corinthians 13-8.
The sacrifices we make for Lent must come from the heart. Lent is a time of cleansing or purification of heart, mind and soul. We will filled with numerous graces from God and we will grow closer to Him if we deny ourselves more than we usually do during these forty days.. We will accompany our Blessed Lord, recalling His Passion and ultimate sacrifice when He offered up His sinless life for our very sinful ones. He will not be alone during His agony in the garden because we will be there by His side, offering up more and more sacrifices that will ease His sufferings.
The following are suggestions to help make our Lenten journey more efficacious.
1. Do resolve to give up something you really like. It could be chocolate, a favorite television program (good thing Downtown Abbey falls on a Sunday and the season is almost up), Facebook, etc.
2. Plan on making visits to the elderly and sick in your neighborhood or parish, who are in hospitals or nursing homes, at least once a week.
3. Invite your priest over for dinner or lunch with your family. However, this suggestion is not for single women.
4. Make a Holy Hour of Adoration daily during Lent.
5. Resolve not to argue with your spouse. But, it is vital that you pray to the Holy Spirit and Blessed Mother for this one. You will need the strength to keep your mouth closed especially when your spouse is wrong or unjust.
6. Stop after dinner. No snacks after 7pm for example.
7. Stop listening to music in the car during Lent. If you must listen to something, listen to Handel's Messiah or the soundtrack of the Passion.
8. Eat dinner at the table, as a family.
9. Do an act of kindness for each member of your family during Lent. We usually tend to be kind to others but neglect our family in this respect.
10. Go to confess weekly during Lent, making sure to examine your conscience properly, of course.
11. Pray about finding the right spiritual director.
12. Stop reading secular books, magazines and even websites during Lent. Instead, read spiritual books, watch spiritual movies and EWTN. The internet is filled with beautiful sites where you can be filled spiritually. You can even get daily readings in your emailbox. Just look around. For example, Spiritual Direction http://rcspiritualdirection.com/ and right now The Catechism of the Catholic Church readings are being sent daily via email. See sidebar for more info.
13. Get the Divine Mercy app which is free and use their Stations of the Cross during Lent. It is a half hour journey with Jesus and St. Faustina. It is also moving and beautiful.http://thedivinemercy.org/app/
15. Eat meatless during the week and not only on Fridays of Lent.
16. Don't shop for anything that is not necessary such as clothes, goods, etc. The money saved on impulse shopping can be giving as alms to the poor e.g. Ricebowl from CRS.
17. Give up movies, eating out at restaurants, theater, bowling, etc. during Lent. If you think about it, it is hard to enjoy oneself if we meditate on the Passion of Christ.
18. Volunteer at your parish, outreach center, local shelters or just bring a meal to a person in need.
19. Think twice before getting together with friends. If you know it will lead to gossip or gripe-sessions about our spouses, children or employers, maybe that time can be used for something better. Instead, get together with friends to discuss a good spiritual book you are reading or to knit a blanket for a homeless shelter.
20. This time is also perfect for decluttering our homes and simplifying our lives. Fill one bag or box at a time and donate the stuff you no longer use, want or need.
21. After praying the Divine Mercy chaplet at 3:00 p.m., spent the rest of the hour of mercy in prayer or do your spiritual reading then. It is also a perfect time to do the Stations of the Cross.
22. If you cannot give up social networking during Lent, use your time on them for evangelization. Tweet quotes from the saints, post a beautiful Catholic piece of art with scripture or a quote from a saint, as your Facebook status. You can also do this on Pinterest.
23. Refrain from making negative comments, complaining or criticizing anyone or anything on these social networks and in real life.
24. Take a walk of the beach or in the woods, even if it is cold and reflect on God's goodness. (just be careful and keep safe).
25. Whenever your family asks you for something and you automatically want to say no, say yes instead. Let their will be done during Lent.
Well, these are my twenty-five suggestions for you. Please feel free to share some of yours so that we can get 40 suggestions.