Thought for the Day – 12 February – Preparing for Lent – 2 days to go!
Lent is a season of grace. The joy of the Risen Lord Jesus depends on how we live out the holy season of Lent. God’s generosity has no limits but we often fall short in giving God our whole hearts so that He can fill them with His love.
Why not strive to live out this Lent as if it were to be the Last Lent in your lives!
Decide on your Lenten sacrifice. Lent is a season of solemnity and sacrifice commemorating Jesus’ exodus into the desert; our sacrifice is a reminder of the sacrifice of self Jesus made to save us from our sins. Because of this, it is a Lenten tradition to sacrifice something for these 40 days.
Think about all the trivial things in your life that shift your focus away from God. Do you find that you dedicate more time to sending text messages and posting status updates than to prayer and time with God? Do you have a habit of eating junk food excessively? What is something your life could do without?
In addition to sacrificing something, include something special in your Lenten routine. Giving up chocolate or Facebook for 40 days is great but why not do something positive, too, instead of just removing the negative? Resolve to be more mindful of others’ needs, spend more time with your family, pray more and forgive old grudges.
Attend Holy Mass as often as possible. In addition to weekly Sunday service, it’s good to go to Mass and receive the Holy Eucharist frequently, especially during Lent. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday when we remember that we come from dust and to dust we shall return.
Go to Confession, is a wonderful way to turn away from sin and reunite yourself with Christ. If you don’t already, try getting into the habit of going to Confession on a regular basis. The Catholic Church has made it obligatory that all the faithful receive the sacrament of Penance at least once a year and once during the season of Lent, though it’s recommended that you attend Confession at least once a month if possible.
Spend time on prayer and devotions. Though not required, devotions are a great way to put yourself in the right mindset for Lent. The Church highly encourages Adoration of God or the veneration of the Blessed Virgin and the saints. Your local parish probably has regular Eucharistic Adoration, where you can go to sit and engage in deep prayer, in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament. To practice veneration, you could say a decade of the Rosary daily, or pray to your patron saint.
Any prayer, so long as it means something to you, is a step in the direction God intended. If you have a prayer you’ve grown up with that speaks to you, resolve to spend more time focusing on what it truly means and how you can embody that prayer in your everyday life. Perhaps start the Liturgy of the Hours, there are many sites online offering this devotion.
Take time for self-examination and reflection. Christmas and Easter are times of happiness and joy; while the preceding and succeeding seasons are cheery and bright, the same cannot be said about Lent. It is a time of simplicity and solemnity. It is a time to reflect on your dependence on God’s mercy and your understanding of faith. Take moments during this time to think about how you embody Christ’s love.
Get ready to Fast and Abstain – think about how you will incorporate these practises into your life. All Catholics aged fourteen and older are asked to abstain from meat on Lenten Fridays, though fish is allowed to be eaten. Additionally, Catholics aged 18-59 are obliged to fast on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and all Lenten Fridays, meaning that only one full meal may be eaten in the day. Of course, do this however you feel is safe and effective.
Some people should definitely not fast (the pregnant or the elderly, for example). If fasting isn’t a reasonable option for you, fast from something other than food. Make sure it’s something that’s a challenge — like your phone or email — so you can feel the sacrifice you’re making.
Promote your Parish almsgiving project – perhaps think about volunteering your help. Ensure that you find a way to fulfil this vital Lenten requirement – it could be as simple as saving your spare change for your Parish charity or to have Masses said for the holy souls!
Make a Lenten calendar. Such a calendar will help you to focus on the progression of the Lenten season and is a great reminder to see the days ticking away, leaving Sundays out. It ends the Friday before Easter (the last day being Holy Thursday); count backwards from there.
Hang the calendar in a common area in your home. Every day, tick off a box. As you get closer and closer to Easter, how do you find yourself feeling? Are your sacrifices becoming more or less difficult to maintain?
A Blessed and Holy Lent to you all!