Beginning Lent

Blog Published: February 14, 2013
By Sister Julie

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.

Recent Comments

Submitted by Betsy Bauer on Thu, 02/14/2013 - 17:56

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Question - how does one even find a retreat to attend?

Submitted by Sister Julie on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 07:46

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Hi Betsy, First is to check in with a retreat center in the area . You may find info on retreat centers via a local parish, the diocese (e.g., diocesan newspaper or website), or try retreatfinder.com and specify your state and a keyword such as "Catholic" or "Christian" (also helpful to select only the types "personal retreats" and "retreat events").

Local parishes and the diocese may also list retreats offered outside of a retreat center.

Another option is to check in with local religious communities. They often will have programs for the public.

There are also some good options for online retreats -- see for example the Lenten retreat offered by the Online Ministries website at Creighton University -- onlineministries.creighton.edu.

If you are open to traveling then there are lots of options and some specific recommendations we could offer. And we welcome other ideas here too for Betsy!

Submitted by Betsy Bauer on Fri, 02/15/2013 - 16:21

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I guarantee you I would NEVER finish an online retreat - not motivated enough. I have to actually physically GO somewhere and force myself. I think I have Religion Resistance Disorder. Have you ever heard of this?? (I'M JUST KIDDING before someone tries to look it up. I mean, I have it but I don't think it's a real disease.) Traveling would not be too difficulty; I travel quite a bit any way. Thanks for the suggestions.

Submitted by Sister Julie on Mon, 02/18/2013 - 06:35

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LOL Betsy! It's good to know what works -- and doesn't work -- for you!