Tuesday, February 2, 2016

What will Your Lent Look Like?

If you're anything like me, you think about Lent for quite awhile...conjuring up ideas that you could do, sacrifices you could make, etc for a few weeks leading up to it.  However, then Ash Wednesday sneaks up on me, I have about twelve things on my mental list, and each are very important, so I think, "What the heck, I'll just do them all."  Not long after, I fail at one, then another, and another, and pretty soon I end up with the remaining thirty days of no sweets and a sense of defeat.  Each year I think, I have to do better next year.

Well, here we are just about a week away, and I am trying to do better this year.  The problem is, I have so many things to work on...so much that I could sacrifice.  But, I'm resolving to only pick a few things and focus on those things in order to maybe have a bit more success this year.

I'm in the middle of another Whole30 and I've given thought to continuing that throughout Lent.  Or, I've thought about doing Live the Fast in some form.  The thing is, when I give up a food I love, it does feel like a sacrifice for me, and it's important to me to be making a sacrifice that I have to consciously think about, because as much as some may say that makes my focus about me and not about God, I have to disagree.  Because, when I reach for the bread or chocolate, I have to remind myself I cannot have it.  Why?  Because I sacrificed it for forty days to join in the sufferings of Christ who was nailed.to.a.cross.  Then my need for that piece of food doesn't quiet seem as important, and I offer a prayer instead.

Prayer...that is an area I always need to work on.  I've mentioned over and over that I do pretty well at praying throughout the day..."Jesus, have mercy," a Hail Mary here, a decade of a rosary there.  But, if you asked me about quiet, alone time reading my Bible or in front of the Blessed Sacrament, I would have next to nothing to say about when I last did that.  So, I've picked out a few devotionals to choose from.  One is from Blessed is She (the Catholic Women's ministry I write for), another is written by a few of my beautiful blogger friends called Waiting in the Word.  I also have the Magnificat's Lenten Companion and I'm sure I'll be looking into Lent Reflections from Father Barron.  See what I'm doing...getting in over my head again.  But, I'm promising to only pick one, and I'm giving myself this week to make that decision.  But, you might choose a different one.

Maybe I'll make the Angelus a habit, or my few rosaries a week a daily habit.  Maybe I'll start saying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy daily.  Or, I could commit to participating in the Stations of the Cross. I'm not quite sure.  What I do know is that when I do make the time to pray more intently, I only benefit from it.

And for almsgiving...I'm always stumped.  I've always wanted to have little bags of gift cards to a restaurant, snacks and a few toiletries in my car, ready at a moment's notice if I'm to see someone who needs help on the streets.  Maybe this will be the year to do just that!

For the kids, I hope to continue to do a few things to celebrate the liturgical season...like making pretzels and hot cross buns like we did last year.  I am going to pick a few things from Jen Frost's ebook called Family Activities for Lent and Easter.

What will you do?  Will you write a letter to someone daily?  Will you clean out all of your closets and give to those in need?  Will you commit to not gossiping in hopes of breaking a habit?  Will you fast from social media in order to be more present?  Will you simply try to live more peacefully whatever that might mean for you?

I have so many decisions to make, but one I've already made: this Lent will not be about me.

If I give up sweets and someone shows up on my doorstep with a plate of cookies as a sign of love, instead of explaining that I gave up sweets for Lent, I'll eat one.  If I commit to reading my Bible for fifteen minutes in the morning before I get out of bed and a sick child needs me, I'll skip the reading. If I have plans to spend a kid-free day in Adoration and a friend calls on me because she is having a rough day, I'll probably spend the day with her instead.  Because as important as these sacrifices are, the reason we make them is to grow closer to God...to in some tiny way unite the frustrations and sufferings of our day with the ultimate sacrifice.  So, when it comes to being tested, I will choose love, even if that means it isn't in the form I expected it to be.

And, in the meantime, I will pray that my eyes and heart are opened to seeing just what He is asking of me, during this Lent and every day of my life.  Because, He has called me for a purpose and I don't want my will to get in His way.

What will your Lent look like?

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