Lent is a period of 40 days of preparation before the celebration of Easter. It is an opportunity to renew your faith and to recommit to your relationship with Jesus. It is time to get serious and work hard to get back into a spiritually fit shape. The reason to get serious – your love for Jesus – makes the work worth it. Lent approaches and let’s get ready for some great Catholic workouts that will stretch and strengthen you!
Consider the following to help you get the most out of this Lent:
- What have you done during a past Lent that worked?
- What can I do better this Lent?
- In what ways have I struggled in my love for Jesus lately?
- Have I asked Jesus what I most need to strengthen my relationship with Him?
Having a plan for your Lenten promises makes it much easier to commit to them. Within your plan, there are three specific Catholic “workouts” that the Church calls us to:
Lent is a time to PRAY!
These prayer muscles can get weak if you do not work them enough. You can get busy doing and forget to stay connected daily with Jesus.
Here are some options to select from to work your prayer muscles:
- Dedicate extra time in your day to pray
- Commit a new prayer to memory – Morning Offering, Anima Christi, Memorare, or pick from this list of other awesome Catholic prayers
- Pray a daily Rosary
- Spend quiet time with God just being with Him
- Meditate on God’s goodness and spend time thanking Him
- Read the Bible and pray with the story or verse
- Listen to praise and worship music only
- Come on Fridays to pray the Station of the Cross
- Go to Adoration at the Church and/or attend daily Mass
- Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet on Fridays
Prayer is your time to be with Jesus and to seek His will for your lives. You need to pray more often so that you can hear Him, know Him, and love Him better!
Lent is a time to FAST.
As a Catholic, you are called to fast on two days during Lent – Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. This means one full meal and two lighter meals that do not add up to another meal. Water is allowed throughout the day. Even good athletes know that fasting is done at times to prepare your body for greater health and vitality. The greater health you are searching for is holiness and detachment from the world.
Another form of fasting is when you abstain from meat on all Fridays in Lent as a sacrifice for Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice.
There is a third part of fasting that entails giving up something personal to make room for Jesus in your heart. You teach your heart and body to search for something of greater value, and you learn that you do not need to always listen to your body’s desires over the needs of your soul. It also better equips you to fight the evil one and temptations. Sometimes the hardest muscles to work out are the muscles that control your temptations and cravings!
There are many things you can give up such as:
- Screen time/entertainment – Fast from TV, Computer, Gaming, and smartphone one day a week or two or more days and give that time to God and/or your family
- Food – For all of Lent or specifics days fast from soda, coffee, dessert, or specific types of food that you really enjoy and offering that sacrifice to Jesus
- Useless words and hurtful actions- Fast from being negative or gossiping or being disrespectful to others and seek to love more like Jesus
Give up something that is hard for you. If you do not like chocolate and you give it up that is not really a sacrifice or a gift so you will not strengthen your will. Every small sacrifice offered with love unites us with Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice on the Cross.
Lent is a time to GIVE ALMS.
Giving to others allows you to stretch your heart muscles in a new way of love and care for others. When you seek to do good for others, you are living a little more like Jesus. It stretches you out of your self-concerns. These muscles can start the work at home when your family often needs your giving the most, but it then must extend to the world where there are countless needs that you can help to fulfill.
Here are just a few ways to give alms:
- Donate to St Vincent de Paul, a local food pantry, or other services that help those less fortunate
- Do direct service with the poor so you can have solidarity with the poor
- Go out of your way to help someone by doing something unasked at home, work, or around your community
- Volunteer at Church, school, home, etc.
- Visit an elderly person or someone else who needs time and attention
- Write/visit/call a relative you have not spoken to in awhile
This giving of alms or your time (which is just as valuable) unites you with the Church family and reminds you that your call to serve needs to kick up a notch during Lent. Maybe set aside the money you save by giving up something and then give that money to a service for the poor. Or find an opportunity to serve with the hours you gained back because you gave up entertainment on those specific day(s). These types of giving alms allows your sacrifice to change you and to bring you closer to God. They are both a power work out for your souls!
Lent is like a training time for your soul and allows your soul to be in better shape for Easter. If you miss a day or fail to do your Lenten promises just keep trying and start again. Remember Jesus came to save you because you are not perfect and need Him. Lent is all about preparing yourselves to better appreciate and celebrate Jesus’ Passion, Death, and Resurrection.
Jesus loves you and wants you to draw close to His Sacred Heart this Lent!
Author: Laura Stephens