It’s been awhile. Yes, I know. Life has been going along at its steady pace and then all of a sudden six months have gone by and I’m left standing here going, “Wasn’t it just Christmas? Wait, what season are we in–Lent?!”
And then comes the usual panicked question: “What am I going to do this year?!”
Fast forward two weeks into Lent, “I’m failing! Ugh, why am I such a spiritual lightweight? I can’t even go a whole day without chocolate?!”
If you’re like me, you begin to question why you chose your initial sacrifices. It sounded great at the time but now that you are into it, you realize you can’t do it all or have forgotten to integrate it into you life. For others, Lent snuck up on us too fast and we are still trying to figure out what we want to do.
Both of sides are in luck!
Step 1: List out your five senses…
Step 2: Take a step back and look at your life. What are you most attached to right now? What small sacrifices can you make everyday? Mother Theresa and St. Therese always reminded us to do small things with great love. What little things can you offer up to Jesus? Here are a few ideas in case you get stumped:
-Maybe you are avid music lover: Maybe you can agree to only listening to Christian music on the radio or nothing at all.
-Like to talk a lot? Give up interrupting people when they are speaking for a week.
-Need a boost in your prayer life? Pay attention during the homily at Mass. Go to adoration without any aides (novels, books, journals etc) and just speak with the Lord and listen for His voice.
-Put away all electronic devices once you get home from work; seriously. No iPad, no computer, no phone. Hide the t.v. remote if you have to. Pretend it’s the 1940s and find something to do together as a family.
-Read. Read a spiritual book, read the Bible, read the life of a saint, read something that will bring you closer to God and if you have children–Read it aloud! Let them hear all the great spiritual stories!
Sight: This one can be hard in our day and age. Everything is geared to catch our eye!
-Maybe you can go a week without your favorite show. If not, the alternative would be to avoid turning on the t.v. just to ‘relax’ and ‘kill time’. Instead, take that time and read something!
-Maybe you can pull out that Catholic classic that has been gathering dust on the shelf for a couple of years. Maybe you can commit to reading the Bible every morning before/during breakfast and/or before you go to bed.
-Something a little out of the ordinary would be to take down your favorite poster or picture. It is something small but it is still something you can offer up to Jesus.
-If you can’t get off social media completely then limit it, say you can only get on Facebook once in the morning and once at night. Or make it a challenge to post something spiritual every day to challenge yourself but also those you are friends with. Use it as a platform for evangelization!
-Tape a prayer to your bathroom mirror, corner of your car windshield, the back of your laptop, anywhere your eyes focus on during the day. Fill your eyes with good and holy reminders.
-Who doesn’t like to smell good? For this week, sacrifice using your favorite bodywash/lotion/perfume, etc.
-Don’t light your favorite candle.
-Don’t make your favorite food smell–that’s right, avoid making your favorite food aroma that when it hits you makes your mouth water and say, “Thank you God! I can’t wait to eat!”
If you’re looking more to do something than to give up something:
-Clean out your car every week regardless of its state.
-Wash your dish immediately after using it-don’t let it sit in the sink.
-If you have children, teach them how to clean (this can be laborious and may require some prayerful assistance for patience).
This probably the most common thing given up for Lent so I’m going to go out on a limb here and put a twist on this beloved sacrifice.
-I have picky eaters in my family, so this sacrifice is inspired by them. Eat food that you don’t like or particularly crave. If I look in the fridge for lunch and see something I really want–choose something else to eat. Really want that cheeseburger? Eat the leftover meatloaf instead.
-Whenever food is presented to me at meal time, eat some of everything that is put on the table. It doesn’t have to be huge portions but it can be a sacrifice to take and eat a little of everything especially if there are things you absolutely don’t like.
-A lot of people give up chocolate for Lent. If you are like me and can’t give up chocolate completely…eat only one kind of chocolate the entirety of Lent, giving it up when you can. (This already has ruined my chocolate craving for this particular item.)
-Make Sunday meals special–No Leftovers on the Lord’s day!
-Ask a friend or family member if you can make a meal for them. Give the gift of food to others!
This is a bit tougher one.
-I will not wear my favorite outfit (or better yet, I will give away my favorite outfit),
-Don’t sleep with a pillow. Or don’t sleep with your favorite blanket/sweatshirt/pajama pants.
-I was challenged once to walk for a week with a pebble in my shoe (talk about annoying) but it served its purpose. Take a lukewarm or cold shower once a week.
-When at Mass or adoration, don’t use the kneeler. Instead, kneel on the floor. If you pray at home, like a family rosary or your nightly prayers, kneel on the floor.
-Hug those you love.