As we move into the Lenten season, we often take on different practices to help us grow in our relationship with God. The church calls us to three ancient spiritual practices: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. The three of course are inter-related but it's helpful to move into this season with an awareness of how we might embrace each one. Here are some thoughts as I reflect on my own Lenten journey:

Prayer

  • Iraq War Stations of the Cross by Gwyneth Leechmove more deeply into a prayer practice that you find particularly meaningful
  • try a new form of prayer as a way to discover new dimensions of relating with God
  • spend a bit more time each day, or a longer period on the weekend (or whenever you have more of a break) in prayer
  • go on retreat
  • pray the Stations of the Cross -- pray outdoors, on an iOS app, as a virtual guided reflection, at any Catholic church, by reading a book, and probably many other places! (image: Iraq War Stations of the Cross, Station 5, by Gwyneth Leech)

Fasting

  • give something up -- or have a friend choose for you -- and allow the sacrifice to meaningfully inform your life
  • bother to love -- another great reflection by Father James Martin, SJ
  • inculcate new habits of how you want to be in the world
  • sacrifice words that are unkind or unjust -- especially in the sometimes free-for-all of social media
  • don't forget to be joyful!

Almsgiving

  • volunteer at a soup kitchen ... and stay throughout the year
  • put a rice bowl on your table to collect funds for our people in need
  • make a difference in someone's life by just showing up and being present
  • smile kindly at a complete stranger
  • help someone in their search for adequate and meaningful employment
  • reduce your "footprint" so others may also experience the splendor of creation
  • develop a habit of being tuned in to caring for others

What practices are meaningful to you during this season of Lent? What is your desired goal as you move through Lent? Please use the comment area -- log in or register following the links below.