With the Lenten season upon us it is worth contemplating a change in how we approach this holy season. Generally speaking, since the beginnings of Lent (which has its roots in the time of Jesus when he fasted for forty days and forty nights in the desert) it has been a tradition to “give something up” for these forty days. Usually, we give things up like candy, soda, caffeine, etc.
I’ve often followed in this tradition, but have decided that I’m going change my approach. Instead of “giving something up” for forty days, I’m going to “add something” that I hope will have a deeper and long-lasting effect. Instead of simply giving something up because this is what we’ve done since we were kids, let’s focus on deep inter-personal reflection and preparation for that which Lent is guiding us towards – Easter.
Here’s a primer on ideas that may spark a change in your approach to Lent:
• Consider adding more time with your children.
• Consider adding more time in private prayer.
• Consider adding time for daily Mass/Church – if only for two or three days of the week.
• Consider adding time to pray with your family.
• Consider adding time or talents donated to your community/church or charity.
• Consider forgiving those who have hurt you.
• Consider praying for those whom you find it most difficult to love.
• Consider writing (hand-written) letters to your family members – all of them – expressing your love for them and recalling favorite memories. Do this once a week for the duration of Lent.
• Consider adding time to reflect and study upon the meaning of Lent and its relationship to your preparation for the holiest day of the year – Easter Sunday.
• Consider adding the discipline of fasting to your life – on Fridays during Lent. Reflect on its Biblical roots with regards to penance.
• Consider adding the attempt to let go of the need to seek revenge.
• Consider adding the sincere effort of changing your life for the better – the way you act, treat others, and how you involve God in your life.
• Consider adding a genuine attempt to heal the wounds of divorce rather than consistently re-opening them.
• Consider adding an effort to lose weight and stop drinking as much.
• Consider adding an endeavor to re-discover the reasons you fell in love with your spouse. Let these forty days be a new adventure of love and shared faith and fun.
Once decided upon, please consider making a life-habit of the thing you choose to add to your life this year for Lent.