Remember this one thing: Lent isn’t a Pass / Fail endeavor where God is watching and preparing your report card. Lent is an opportunity for you to enter into the Liturgical year. It’s a reset button. An opportunity for you to take this season of penitence seriously and work on your spiritual self. Practice virtue. Combat your vices. Pray more. Fast. Abstain. Make your Lent about DOING. Doing good. Doing more. Perfection doesn’t happen overnight. We are human and we fail. Failure is OK – it keeps us at least a little humble. Embrace it, and then try again. This is how you build character and work your way toward Eternal Beatitude.
Here are a few resources that can be used to assist with your Lenten practices.
- A time to pray more. Why not add the seven-penitential-psalms to your prayer routine? There are seven, do just one a day. Then when you’ve made it a successful part of your routine, try them all in one session.
- A time to plan. Anything that we want to succeed at we try to plan for. So why not plan your Lent? All it takes is a little bit of thought and time, carefully considering what you want to accomplish this Lenten season. When we are prepared with a plan, we tend to accomplish more. Use this Lent Plan as a template for you to create your own.
- How about an easy method to follow for a daily, evening Examen? Even when the season of Lent is past, this practice helps us to reflect on our day — the blessings we have received as well as the areas that need improvement. Here’s a very brief one page practice to follow that you can print out and leave by your bedside. Make the Daily Examen a part of your Lenten routine that you carry forward to other areas of your life.
- And speaking of your daily Examen – while you are trying to discern the blessings that your God brings to your life each and every day, why not start a “Gratitude Journal” to record them? Each night after your Examen, enter into a little notepad all of the things that you have to be grateful for, to be happy about, and the many reasons you have to give God thanks. A friend suggested this idea at a group retreat meeting and I just love it. I think it’s a great practice that we can start during Lent and continue throughout the year.
- Lent is also a time where we can begin a better practice of mediation, reflection, or contemplation. There are tons of resources out there that can assist with this, but here’s one I’d like to recommend specifically. “I Thirst: 40 Days with Mother Teresa” is a series of daily reflections that lead you on a journey of understanding Christ’s thirst for souls and our response. It will have a great impact on your Lent.
- Don’t forget, Lent is a great time to practice the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. I suggest picking one of each for Lent to focus on. Make it a daily (or at the very least – a weekly) effort. Give it your time and attention and try to pick ones that perhaps you think you would struggle with – challenge yourself! The link will take you to a PDF file easy to print that not only lists the works of mercy but also gives you scripture references to go along with each one.