As much as the true meaning of Christmas gets distorted by our culture, I think that Lent gets distorted. I am not sure which is worse, a religious holiday being almost entirely secularized or one getting ignored almost altogether? Something to think about.
From what I have gathered from most Catholics and Christians out there, Lent is pretty similar to the start of the new year. We either A) pick the same thing every year, B) try to do something new and it fizzles out, C) pick something completely unrelated to your faith. I suppose these are better than D) doing nothing.
Today on Ash Wednesday, I am going to challenge you on each of the above categories if you fit into one of them!
A) Picking the same thing every year:
If you are picking the same thing every year, I really encourage you to challenge yourself and pick something new to try. While some of the things you are doing might be great and help you grow in your faith, you should try to combine them with something new.
B) Trying something new and letting it fizzle out before Lent ends:
Why does it fizzle out? That's the first question. The second is what can you do to see this sacrifice through the entire forty days? Could you break this into measurable amounts and work your way into it. Maybe divide this goal into quarters and add a new component everyday? I know a lot of people want to do daily scripture readings but then they forget about them. What if they set a daily reminder on their phone to do them when they wake up, or during lunch, or a little before bedtime?
C) Picking something unrelated to your faith:
How many times have you heard that someone is giving up coffee or chocolate or junk food? Probably at least once a Lent. If you fall into this category, beyond just giving up one of these things unrelated to your faith, take the money that you would have spent on your morning coffee or junk food and donate it to your church or favorite religious charity because just giving up your morning coffee probably isn't going to make you grow in your faith.
D) Not doing anything:
Pick something! I have heard many times you should pick three things that focus on pray, fasting, and almsgiving. In C above, I touched on how you can tie your fasting to almsgiving so then you just gotta figure out the faith part...maybe doing daily scripture readings like I mentioned in B.
I realize I probably sounded really judgment and holier than you up there but these were my thoughts while deciding what my Lenten sacrifices would be this year. I decided to share them here in hopes that others could be inspired or think about their goals for the next forty days.
Here are my Lenten goals:
Prayer: Doing the daily scripture readings (I will most certainly need a phone reminder) and reading Rediscover Jesus by Matthew Kelly. My church gave out Rediscover Jesus at Christmas and it has been on my to read list since so I figured this would be a perfect time! Bonus: it's short...just 187 pages, plus it's forty chapters long so this means I can read a chapter a day. At the end of each chapter, Kelly includes point to ponder, verse to live, question to consider, and prayer. I will complete each these too.
Fasting: The obvious Catholic no meat on Fridays. Also no grocery shopping beyond perishables because I already have a lot of canned goods and frozen items. In the spirit of living with less, I want to use those up before I buy more.
Almsgiving: This one is hard. I don't want to make excuses because I am sure this is equally as hard for adults with jobs but getting ready for grad school and planning a wedding has made me hyper aware of my spending. I have a couple thoughts I want to try to implement. I got the rice box from church and I think I will put in some money for times when I "mess up" such as swearing or gossiping.
Do you have any Lenten plans?