What are YOU doing for Lent?
Forty days of doing for others and prayer for myself.
Lent is almost here prompting the question, "What are you giving up for lent?" This is a tough question for me. I'm a lay person, but working for Catholic Online, I get the question early. I also take the season seriously, so I want to make a thoughtful decision that is both realistic and that works to promote my spiritual growth without causing me ridiculous hardship or anxiety.
Do you need ideas for Lent? Check out what others did last year!
One of my most resonant memories of Lenten sacrifice as a young man was giving up sweets-on a year when my birthday fell during Lent. It was a big deal because at that time, my diet consisted of substantial daily sugar intake. I remember gathering with my family at a nice restaurant and after our meal, I was presented with a very tempting birthday cake. Much to the chagrin of my less-devout parents, I refused to touch it. They urged me to make an exception to my sacrifice for my birthday, but for me, it was a great opportunity to appreciate more fully what Christ did for me.
As for my parents, well, they got over it soon enough.
In other years, I have done the opposite of giving something up. I have added something to my routine taking that effort, and dedicating it to Christ.
For example, I've added a 40-day regimen of Lenten prayers to my routine. Even adding a daily rosary is a great way to celebrate the season.
The 40 glorious days of dishes!
Doing some daily chores for others is a wonderful way to share my sacrifice with others while also making life easier for everyone around me. You have no idea how much your family will appreciate forty days without dishes or laundry until you do it for them, six days a week. (Remember, Sundays aren't part of Lent!) Doing some chores can also provide a wonderful time for contemplation and prayer. It works great in my household, for when there's chores to be done, like dishes, the family is quick to disappear, leaving me free with my thoughts.
Sometimes, I am saddened to see that fellow Catholics and other Christians (who also celebrate Lent with us) view a Lenten sacrifice as an obligation that they actually dread. This has always struck me as unfortunate. For me, Lent is a special time -a time to focus on myself as an individual and whether I am growing in my faith. It's an entire 40 day season where I direct my spiritual energies inward and reflect on what I'm doing, where I'm going, what I can do to cooperate with God's grace in helping to bring about my conversion. Like all of us, I want to be better as a person.
For me, that's exciting. Almost selfish! But I also know that a thorough spiritual self-examination will make me a better person and improve how I relate to others and the world around me. Lent shouldn't be all ashes and penance. That's part of it, yes, but it's also about growth and opportunity.
I pray this season is as exciting and fruitful for you as it is for me.
So, let me be the first to ask: What are you giving up for Lent? Share your answer here.
Need ideas: Check out what others did last year.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2014
Sports: That sports may always be occasions of human fraternity and growth.
Lay Missionaries: That the Holy Spirit may support the work of the laity who proclaim the Gospel in the poorest countries.
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'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading
On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading
HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading
On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading
Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading
For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading
Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now
What did you give up for Lent?
From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
This Sorrowful pilgrimage now brings me here to this lonely hill. All the agony, the beatings and the bleeding have led me somewhere I do not want to go; somewhere I resist going with all my ...Continue Reading
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
I wonder if perhaps it was tempting for Jesus to just lie down on the dirt road and die right there. Completely sapped of strength and in agonizing pain, I wonder if He was tempted by the ...Continue Reading
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
Humiliation, in one form or another, is part of the package. It is only avoidable if we decide to deny Christ. WASHINGTON, D.C. (Catholic Online) - 3rd Sorrowful Mystery: The Crowning ...Continue Reading
Michael Terheyden - Catholic Online, 4/18/2014
The Passion of Christ represents the most atrocious miscarriage of justice in all of human history. So when we come face to face with the crucified Christ on Good Friday, it is only natural for us to ...Continue Reading
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.
In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.
ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations
'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35
Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.
Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
Learn More »