Lent is such a beautiful liturgical season.
Yeah, you read that right. Beautiful.
Yes it’s all about sacrifice. Yes it’s not always fun. But sacrifice is beautiful. And we sacrifice willingly and regularly for those we love.
So yeah, Lent is beautiful.
Lent is unique in that we are preparing ourselves for the Ultimate Sacrifice that is Christ crucified. We spend this time focused inward, on improving ourselves to be more Christ-like and on improving our relationship with Christ so we can be with Him in the next life.
We are called to do this in a three-fold way: Prayer, Fasting and Almsgiving.
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It’s more than “just giving up sweets” and the beauty of this encouragement to focus on Christ in a special way during these 40 days is that it is tailorable to each individual and family, to whatever in your heart you believe will bring you closer to Christ.
Maybe for you giving up sweets will bring you closer to Christ. Maybe not. Only you can know that. Your Lenten sacrifices are yours, just as your journey to sainthood is unique to you.
It wasn’t until I became a mother and started really trying to dig deeper into my faith that I started taking Lent seriously. I usually gave up something along the lines of swearing, donuts, or being mean to my sisters (lol).
This year I’m trying to focus less on “giving something up” and more on “what can I do to grow closer to Christ”.
Prayer and Fasting
In this season of life I’m crazy busy, so I knew I had to do something to make time for conversations with Christ. So as a sort of marriage between the call to prayer and the call to fasting, I’m giving up TV completely and will use the (albeit fairly rare) time I would usually spend watching television in prayer. Husband bought me this beautiful journaling Bible for Christmas and I still haven’t used it so I’m going to focus on spending time in Scripture, really digging deep into it and not just skimming through the daily readings. I’m also going to get back into the habit of starting and ending out days in prayer, and Husband and I committed to spending one night after the kids are in bed solely focused on discussing Scripture together.
We’re also giving up sweets, but Lent is more an excuse to do what we’ve been putting off versus doing it specifically to grow closer to Christ. I’ll be offering up any sweet cravings or sugar withdrawals for the souls in Purgatory.
I also plan to attend daily Mass on Fridays and if we can find one during the day and not at 7 p.m. (hello, bed time) we hope to attend Stations of the Cross at least once. Also, since V is now almost 3.5, we’ve been reading to her out of her children’s Bible and we plan to continue that and will probably print some of these coloring pages to help illustrate what Lent is about.
Almsgiving is also very hard in this season, but we really want to be charitable during Lent. We’re doing a sort of 40 bags for 40 days and will be donating everything we collect to a local ministry for migrant families and those struggling. So for Husband and I, we will give up any one thing for 40 days (mostly because I went on a major purge while pregnant with Baby A and we don’t actually have enough stuff we don’t genuinely need to fill 40 bags), BUT it has to be something that is actually a sacrifice (so not those Family Guy dvd sets that haven’t been touched in years…) and not just finally getting rid of something we don’t need (though we will be doing that as well, especially since we’re hoping to buy a house this summer/fall). For V, we will be giving her a sandwich-size ziploc bag to fill each day with toys, clothes, jewelry, accessories, etc. and she can empty it out into a larger bag each day. She will be allowed to use both the toys she has in her play area and those from her lesser-used basement play area. We hope to take her to a celebration hosted by the organization we’re donating to so she can meet some of the children who she was giving her toys to.
We are also going to be participating in Rice Bowl and using cash for groceries so we actually have change, and we will encourage V to donate some coins from her piggy bank.
The Penitential Nature of Lent
Lent is different than Advent in that we are called to really look to our own sin and focus on interior conversion since Easter begins with a recommitment to our baptismal promises. One important aspect of this is receiving the sacrament of penance. While I prefer to go to confession every couple of months, it’s good to step back and spend time with a really good examination of conscience before receiving the sacrament, a habit I definitely get out of during the rest of the year.
And because of the penitential nature of Lent, I think it’s only natural to spend some of that extra prayer time digging deep into our sin and our failings, finding ways we can improve. I am going to be meditating on the virtue of humility this Lent so stay tuned for a few posts about that!
How are you observing Lent this year? Share in the comments below or hop over to Facebook!