Skip to comments.Don’t Waste Your Lent: 7 Ways to Have a Good Lent (Catholic Caucus)
Posted on 02/14/2015 10:18:53 AM PST by NYer
Lent is a season of penance and ascetical warfare. The enemy is concupiscence, the world, and the devil. The goal is pure hearts so that we can joyfully celebrate the resurrection of our Lord at Easter, the greatest feast of the liturgical year. In a way, Lent should be a microcosm of our entire struggle on earth, just as the Paschal feast of Easter is a microcosm of our heavenly triumph in Christ. Yet, a good Lent takes focus and discipline, and it can easily be wasted.
In my own experience, I often begin the lenten season with the best of intentions. I imagine myself going into full ascetic mode, fasting and praying as ardently as one of the monastic fathers in the desert. And maybe for the first week I succeed through sheer strength of will. Then, just when I am feeling good about myself, everything falls apart and I come face to face with my own weakness.
Weve all been there at some point, and so today Id like to share 7 practical ways to have a good Lent.
1. Have a plan The fastest way to ruin Lent is to have good intentions but no plan. Be specific. Im going to pray more, isnt good enough. Download this helpful worksheet. Once youve determined what you are going to do, stick to it every single day.One word of advice: Make it doable. Often, we are overly ambitious and commit to way too much. When we fail in our lenten goals, we grow discouraged and give up completely. This is a victory for the devil. Make your commitments modest and practical, and your Lent will be the better for it.
2. Read a good book The saints are constantly exhorting us to read good spiritual books, and there is no better time to begin this practice than during Lent. Reading Scripture or the writings of the saints is a great place to start. Here are some suggestions for Lenten reading:
3. Examine yourself - Lent is an excellent time to take an inventory of the state of your soul. What are your predominant faults? Do you have any hidden idols in your life? What is keeping you from following the will of God with all your heart? Use a thorough examination of conscience to help you assess your spiritual health.Remember, Lent is not ultimately about giving up sweets or other things we enjoy, it is first and foremost about repentance, which means giving up up sin and returning to God, our loving Father. While taking inventory of your sins may be painful, it is a healthy pain that restores the soul.
4. Confess your sins After examining your conscience, the logical next step is to go to confession. Normally, it can be hard to find a parish with confession readily available (thirty minutes on a Saturday isnt enough!), but the good news is, many parishes have increased confession times during Lent, so its a great time to go.Before receiving the sacrament of penance, though, remember the five requirements for a good confession: 1) Examination of conscience 2) True contrition for having offended God 3) Firm resolution to sin no more 4) Clear confession (dont hold any sins back) 5) Penance for the sins you have committed
5. Pray - Lets face it, we can all pray more, and Lent is a great time to plan and implement a daily prayer rule that can guide you the rest of the year. During this season, however, we should especially focus our prayers on repentance and contrition for our sins. Here are some suggestions for Lenten prayer.
6. Fast - Ive written before about the importance of prayer and fasting, so suffice it to say that it is something we should be doing all year round, not just during Lent. Still, Lent is a very good time to refocus our efforts and renew our commitment. We should especially focus on fasting from things related to our predominant sins.Are you addicted to Instagram or Facebook? Fast from them. Maybe youre binge watching shows on Netflix. Give it up. On the other hand, maybe youre addicted to criticizing others. Make a special effort to fast from negative speech. The point is, while fasting from certain foods is an excellent ascetical practice, we do not have to limit our lenten fasting to things we eat. Remember the words of Jesus: If youre eye offend you, pluck it out. Nothing should stand between us and the heavenly kingdom, and we should be intentional about cutting off those things that are causing us to sin.
7. Give alms During Lent, we especially remember the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross. This is the greatest act of generosity in history, for Jesus died not just for his friends, but for his enemies. God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). The generosity of God in Christ should impel us to be generous and merciful to others, especially those poor and in need.This Lent, find a way to give, whether it is supporting a religious order or helping at a homeless shelter. Remember the promise of Jesus, And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.
I began this post by talking about my own failure, and yet, when it comes to lenten disciplines, true failure is not really possible. I mean that even failing in our commitments can help us grow in humility and knowledge of our own spiritual povertyand growth in these is always spiritual advancement.
This Lent, do your best. Strive to root out sin and cultivate holiness. But when you fail, realize that even those who can be considered righteous fall seven times daily (Prov. 24:16). Let it be a lesson in humility that drives you back to the grace of God flowing from the pierced heart of Jesusfor that is the true heart of Lent.
Widely proclaimed a classic work of Christian faith, Life of Christ has been hailed as the most eloquent of Fulton J. Sheen's many books. The fruit of many years of reflection, prayer, and research, it is a dramatic and moving recounting of the birth, life, Crucifixion, and Resurrection of Christ, and a passionate portrait of the God-Man, the teacher, the healer, and, most of all, the Savior, whose promise has sustained humanity for two millenia.
Numerous writers and composers have been captivated by the suggestiveness of Jesus' Seven Last Words. But Richard John Neuhaus's sustained exploration of these utterances is something altogether different. Through them he plumbs the depths of human experience and sets forth the central narrative of Western civilization-the suffering, death, and resurrection of Christ-in a way that engages the attention of believers, unbelievers, and those who are not sure what they believe. Death on a Friday Afternoon is an invitation to the reader into a spiritual and intellectual exploration of the dark side of human experience with the promise of light and life on the far side of darkness.
And my personal favorite
Reader Review: Fr. Gruber's evocative descriptions of Coptic monasticism and spirituality beautifully illustrate how inner conversion and contemplation are the heart of the Church. In the West we often hear an emphasis on practical action, or social justice, over and above contemplative prayer. Fr. Gruber's writings about the Copts show how contemplative prayer nurtures us and gives life to all our actions. It is a great window into a neglected and persecuted Christian population, and an inspiration for our daily lives and relationship with God.
Bump. I might need to consult a Lent-planner.
The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis has been posted on FR. Do a search for it.
For us Los Angeles freepers go to your fav Mexican restaurant on Friday and Ash Wedesnday they used have best Fish tacos
For Trad Catholics:
for the children and the whole family
Sheen’s “Life of Christ” is wonderful!
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