So this little season called Lent is coming up. 'Tis the season amirite? Lent is one of my favourite seasons, in fact, if I dare say, it is the New Year’s of the Christian faith. It is a time to give up a vice – or better yet, take on a new prayer/work on a virtue – to prepare our hearts for Christ’s death and resurrection. I love Lent because it gives me a chance to improve my spiritual, physical and mental health. It’s like a Catholic makeover for me. Did I acquire an un-healthy vice over the past year? No problem, give it up for Lent! Has my prayer life lost a bit of weight recently? Bang, Lent to the rescue!
In all seriousness, Lent is the cleanse that brings me back to life year after year. It is a chance to reflect on my life and recommit myself and my life to the Lord. The purpose of Lent is to prepare our hearts to fully accept the Divine Mercy Christ secured for us when he paid the ultimate sacrifice. So how do we prepare our hearts? I am by no stretch educated on theology, but I have found a few ways to be successful in preparing my heart. Firstly, I like to give up a major vice in my life, in hopes that I will overcome it and not return to it after Lent. Secondly, I like to sacrifice something fun, such as music, Netflix (wait…you mean Netflix isn’t essential to life?), or pop (protip- totally worth it, he said after finishing a can of Coke). Thirdly, I like to take on an extra bit of prayer (again, in hopes that it sticks after Lent). Through giving up a vice, we are telling the Lord that we know we are flawed and are working to fix it. Through sacrificing something material (that isn’t necessarily negative), we are reminding ourselves that we are not of this world. And thirdly, by taking up an extra form of prayer, we are giving the Lord even more opportunity to work in our lives. To up the ante and really encourage myself to stay faithful to my fast, every time I indulge in what I have given up, or forget to do what I decided to take up, I donate a (granted, modest) amount of money to charity. This way, it’s a win win. Either we receive grace for our sacrifice/prayer, or we receive grace for charity.
Here are some (interesting) things to help get those lovely cognitive juices flowing as to what we can give up this Lent:
Music while driving
Buying snacks at school
Netflix (who knows, maybe it will cure chronic procrastination???)
Meat on Fridays (hint hint nudge nudge)
Swearing (this one’s fun)
Sarcasm (yeah, sure. Oh…wait)
Phone at the dinner table
Procrastination (albeit, I’m totally writing this instead of doing homework)
Saying YOLO (PLEAAASSEEE)
And here are some suggestions for ways we can take something up this Lent:
Praying before we drive
Divine Mercy Chaplet (insert shameless plug for the Year of Mercy here)
Corporal/spiritual acts of mercy
Visiting the Holy Door in our diocese (O-town peeps- check out Notre Dame Cathedral downtown)
Forgive someone who needs forgiveness
Praying with our family
Exercise (lol, good one dude. But legit, this one is actually really good. It really helps with self-discipline)
Flossing? (Hey, no judgement)
These are just a few suggestions, check out http://www.piercedhands.com/100-things-to-do-for-lent/ for more! The point is not what we give up/do, but rather the fact that we strive to prepare our heart for the passion. I truly hope that we all have a prosperous and beautiful Lent as we prepare ourselves for Christ’s triumph of the cross. De Colores and God Bless.