Monday, February 08, 2016
Things to Do this Lent
Here are some suggestions that may help you grow spiritually this Lent. Of course, the best suggestion I can give you is to try to attend Holy Mass daily and pray the Holy Rosary daily and/or with your family.
1. Drink only water during the week and Saturday. Save your juices, carbonated beverages, etc. for Sunday.
2. Meditate on Jesus' words: "I thirst" and refrain from drinking even water for at least five minutes or so, especially when you are very thirsty.
3. Eat only meat on Sundays. During the week, practice abstinence from meat.
4. Unite yourself with the starving people around the world by eating what you have in your refrigerator or cupboards/pantries. Necessity is the mother of invention they say. I can almost promise you that you will come up with good and tasty recipes with the grains, beans, canned fish, vegetables you already have on hand, when you know you cannot go shopping for what you want.
5. Shop only when necessary. That goes for food, clothes, cleaning supplies, and so forth.
6. Take advantage of sales and buy food to share with your church's outreach or homeless shelters. If you want to stick with shopping only when necessary, then go through your own pantry and share your food with others in need.
7. If you are not in the habit of eating meals with your family at the table, at least try to eat dinner together, at the table.
8. Catholics celebrate Mardi Gras for a reason. It used to be customary to cook with the oils, butters, sugars on Fat Tuesday and abstain from using them during Lent. Try to abstain for fats, sugars, and too much salt, during the week during Lent.
9. Make a holy hour of Adoration at least once a week during Lent.
10. Refrain from watching mindless television shows such as sitcoms, suggestive movies, etc. during Lent. Watch spiritual movies, family classics and Catholic programming instead.
11. Instead of just giving up one thing during Lent, try to sacrifice different treats such as snacks, movies, plays, dinners, lunches and drinks, and give the money you save to Aid to the Church in Need.
12. Prepare a little reading nook in either your bedroom or somewhere quiet. You will need a comfortable chair, a little table and if possible and ottoman. Place some good Catholic books you want to read on the little table, along with a journal and a nice pen. Place a fragrant candle on the little table too.
13. Spend at least 1/2 hour a day doing spiritual reading. See list of recommended reading below.
14. If you are on any social networking sites, start sharing about God's mercy. You can quote from various the saints, St. Faustina's diary, Pope Francis, and the Holy Bible. There are endless sources for God's mercy.
15. Make more acts of charity, either spiritual or corporal, at least once a day.
16. Send a note or email to someone you hurt and apologize. If you cannot do that, say a prayer or request a Mass for that person.
17. Go through your home and try to see what is essential and what is not. In the book A Song for Nagasaki, the author writes about Dr. Takashi Nagai's love of huts. According to the writings of Buddhism, the Yuima Sutra, "You best meet the Supernatural, if you make your heart like a hut, that is empty of everything but the bare essentials." Dr. Nagai, a convert to Catholicism must have related it to God, He is our supernatural. I just thought it was a very beautiful thing, to clear out anything that keeps us from God and only keep the bare essentials. So, why not start with our own homes.
18. Practice devotion of the Stations of the Cross each day at Church. If this is not possible, at least try to make it on Fridays when most parishes hold them for the faithful. Two I would recommend are The Way of the Cross with excerpts from St. Faustina's Diary as well as St. Alphonsus Liguori's traditional Way of the Cross. I believe you can order a little booklet containing both from the National Shrine of the Divine Mercy. You can also call them at 1-800-462-7426.
19. Keep a spiritual journal. The format I use is as follows: +JMJ+ on top as well as the Feast of the Day or the Saint of the Day. Then Ex of C: Examination of Conscience: I write down all my sins and failings of the previous day. Then I ask our Blessed Mother in writing, to help me overcome these faults. I thank her and I tell her how much I love her. I also take notes when I read and jot down excerpts, quotes or prayers that help me spiritually.
20. Try to do everything required of your daily duty with love, patience and even if it is something mundane like washing dishes, wash those dishes the best you can. Do it for God.
21. Give up breakfast or lunch, or both on Fridays during Lent. Better yet, also during the week.
Spiritual Reading Recommendation:
A Song for Nagasaki by Father Paul Glynn
The Passion and the Death of Jesus Christ by St. Alphonsus Liguori
Preparation for Death by St. Alphonsus Liguori
Victories of the Martyrs by St. Alphonsus Liguori
The Holy Eucharist by St. Alphonsus Liguori
The Port of St. Bonaventure (Father Solanus Casey) by James Patrick Durum
He Leadeth Me by Father Walter Ciszek, S.J.
The Road to Damascus (Stories of Conversion) edited by Father John O'Brien
The Life of Faustina Kowalska by Sister Michelenko
The Secret Fiary of Elisabeth LeSeur
Also, the Holy Bible, available free with the EWTN app for your ipad and the Diary of Sister Faustina.
May you and your loved ones have a very blessed Lenten journey.