Simple Catholic Snapshots
- Lent is the 40 Day season prior to Easter
- Lent is the time to unify ourselves with Christ, preparing for His death and Resurrection
- Traditional practices include “giving up” something as an act of penance.
- This year, how about “adding on” something?
- Let’s make Lent a season of personal giving… sacrificing ourselves for others.
Simple Catholic Truths
Ok, mea culpa, I must confess, I’m not really giving up Lent. I just needed a catchy title for this post to get everyone’s attention. Actually of all the celebrations and seasons in our Catholic liturgical year, I find Lent to be the most spiritually rewarding. Yeah, Christmas is special for all the obvious reasons, but I have a real problem getting distracted by the extreme commercial nonsense.
I know “Jesus is the Reason for the Season” but often I can only hear that drumming of the carol “Deck the Halls with Dollar Bills, fa la la la la – la la laa laaa.”
Lent is very different; it is my favorite liturgical season. Lent is a time when I really try to slow down and contemplate the life and death of Christ. I try to open myself with the mystery of the cross and respond to its divine offer. It is a time to renew a life imitating Christ.
So what’s with all this about giving up stuff? Without getting into a history lesson on the development of Lenten practices, suffice it to say that Lent is an opportunity for all Christians to deepen our spiritual lives through the practices of fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. Over the centuries the Church has provided us guidance into the most Biblical, effective and holy ways to unify our lives with Christ.
Giving up something is a form of fasting. Fasting and even the practice of not eating meat on Fridays during Lent is a very good way to live with Christ’s Passion. [Actually, a sacrifice on each Friday of the year is still required by the Church. The common practice of not eating meat on all Fridays throughout the year is not required anymore although the need for personal sacrifice year-round remains. I wrote about this and my decision to abstain from meat of Fridays throughout the year in this blog I wrote last year: Calling all Mackerel Snappers.]
Anyway, this year I’m challenging myself to go beyond the norm of “giving up” something. In addition to giving up something, I’m going to offer up a bit of myself. We’ve all heard the call to offer our time, talent and treasure to the Body of Christ but how much of our direct time and talent do we really give to others. Time seems to be such a valuable commodity these days, one that I am so stingy in giving away. So this Lent is going to be a little different. I’ve started compiling a list of ways to take some of my time and turn it towards the benefit of others. In the spirit of the Cross, this might be a way to walk closer with Christ.
The list contains just a few things that came to mind in no particular order. I’m not sure if I will adopt any of these but I’ll throw it out for your consideration and comment. If any have worked for you in the past, or if you would like to add one I missed, then please leave a comment at the end of this blog. I’m sure we all can benefit.
Ideas for “Adding Something” this Lent:
- Take a few minutes ahead of time and review the Scripture readings for the upcoming Sunday Mass.
- Stop by at Eucharistic Adoration. Just stop by at first, then stay longer the next time. Stay for an hour and just let God speak to you.
- Go to Confession. If it’s been a while, that’s great, just tell the priest and he’ll help you through it.
- Spend 10 extra minutes in prayer each day.
- Find a friend that you have not talked to in a while and reach out. Make contact again. Just be interested in them.
- Find an enemy that you have not talked to in a while and reach out. Make contact again. Don’t try to win, just be interested in them.
- Read a good spiritual book. Find a topic that interests you and find that book. This will take a commitment of time, but isn’t that the point?
- Read the Bible 10 minutes each day. If you aren’t sure where to start, just start with a Gospel and read it thru. Mark is perhaps the shortest and most concise so try that. John’s is more Sacramental if that is your preference. In any case, start with just 10 minutes a day.
- When driving, listen to Catholic Radio instead of a political talk show, or music or sports. In Orange Country or L.A. try AM 930, in San Diego try AM 1000.
- Take the money spent on that luxury latte or meal and give it to a good charity.
- Take the time and pick up a couple of fast food gift certificates to keep in your wallet or car. Next time you see a person in need, you’ll be ready.
- Turn off that cell phone for 10 minutes a day and find a quiet place. You know the rest.
- Attend a daily Mass. Get up a little early before work, or find a Mass at lunch. It really doesn’t take much time. Be sure to review the reading before hand.
- Join in a prayer vigil outside Planned Parenthood. What greater commitment than to life?
- Visit a friend in a nursing home. Take them out to lunch or to the park. Don’t forget the bread to feed the ducks. God loves ducks.
- Attend Stations of the Cross. Invite a non-Catholic to attend.
- Support the parish KOC fish dinners. Usually right after Stations… you can kill two birds with one stone.
- Take a break from social media. Think about how much time is spent on FB and Twitter and make sure that is productive time.
- Identify one specific way to act better towards your best friend or spouse. Act on it. Tell that person you are sorry if need be.
- Get a piece of paper and make a list of people to pray for. Keep it at the ready for all the new moments of silence that are now available to you.
Ok, that’s my list…at least the start of it. Leave a comment and let’s fill it out. Keep in mind though, that making a list is one thing, acting on the list is what counts.
Have a blessed Lent.