When we think of Lent we often think about it being the time of year when we give up something like chocolate or coffee. But it is so much more than that.
Lent is the time of year when we associate ourselves with the sufferings of Christ, which is the only way we can truly relate to Jesus. He is God, we are not. His ways are not our ways and his thoughts are not our thoughts. Jesus came down and sacrificed his life for us. He suffered on the cross for us. For you. For me. In this life, we too suffer. None of us will escape this world without suffering to some degree.
The Lenten season gives us the opportunity to engage in some way in the sufferings of Christ. And the best way to go about that is not necessarily giving something up. Sure, we are all called to the three pillars of Lent - fasting, prayer, and almsgiving. Yes, we are called to fasting. To giving up; to denying ourselves. Fasting can also include giving up things other than food.
But, the best way to engage in some way in the sufferings of Christ is to add something to your Lenten practices. Add one or more spiritual activities to your Lenten journey.
Some practical suggestions:
- Go to Mass more often. If you never go to Daily Mass, try to go at least once a week. If you go to Daily Mass when you can, try to go more often.
- Read Sacred Scripture. St. Jerome said that ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Jesus Christ. If you never read the Bible, commit to reading a couple times a week. If you do read Scripture, read more. And of course, before you read Sacred Scripture pray for the Holy Spirit to enlighten you to know what he wants you to glean from each reading. A simple prayer is, “Come, Holy Spirit, Come.”
- If you’ve never prayed the Rosary, learn how and pray it. Focus on the Sorrowful Mysteries, the mysteries of our Lord’s passion, during Lent. If you do pray the Rosary, pray it more often, and again, focus on the Sorrowful Mysteries.
- If you like to pray Novenas, focus on a Novena to the Five Holy Wounds or to the Precious Blood.
- If you pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, consider this video of the chaplet with meditations from St. Faustina and scenes from The Passion of the Christ. I have found this a very good meditation on the suffering of our Lord.
- Devote more time to spiritual reading. If you need suggestions and if you have a spiritual director, consult your spiritual director for advice on what would be best for your journey. Or ask your pastor.
- If you are able to support your parish more financially, consider doing so. Almsgiving also includes giving of yourself and your time. Volunteer with a ministry. Go to the abortion mill and pray. Get involved with a 40 Days for Life campaign. Go through your closets and donate things you no longer need.
- Fasting can include things other than food. Why not give up, or cut back, on television (or social media, or you fill in the blank for you…) in lieu of reading Scripture? Or praying a rosary/novena/chaplet? Or some other spiritually enriching activity?
Peace in Christ,
© Melissa Knoblett-Aman