Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Closer to God - Preparing for Lent

I'm determined this year to be ready. I'm not going to let Lent sneak up on me. Just the fact that I'm typing this before Ash Wednesday is a good sign. What will I give up? What will I do to become closer to God? What activities or prayers will I add to my children's routine to help them better understand what Lent is all about? One of my very favorite Catholic bloggers, Karen Edmisten, has a wonderful post on preparing for lent. Grab a cup of coffee and read the whole thing. It's long and very inspiring. Karen talks about the debate on whether to give up something you love or to give up something that is bad for you. I'm still not sure what I am going to give up this year. Last year I gave up something I love - Iced Tea. I drink it every day, all year round. I drink de-caf/sugar free so it's not bad for me. It's just something I really do love. I was successful last year giving that up and every time I reached for a glass to get something to drink, I remembered; Oh yeah, Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice....for me. I'm going to drink something else, even though I'd really like a glass of tea. It's the least I can do. It's penance for sin. And when Easter Sunday came around and I had my tea after all those weeks, it sure tasted good. It was a celebration not only that I did it, but also a celebration for Christ. It was the great Alleluia. Christ has RISEN! I'll drink to that. This year I'm thinking of stepping it up a notch. I think I will not only give up tea, but all other cold beverages I routinely drink and only drink water. No diet soft drinks, no flavored water, no juice, no cold coffee drinks. Drinking plain water will again remind me of my sacrifice.

Other things I plan to work on this lent for myself and my children include attending daily mass more often, receiving the Sacrament of Reconciliation, praying the Stations of the Cross, Praying the Rosary daily, spending time in Adoration at church frequently and doing some kind of charity towards others less fortunate. And of course fasting and abstinence on the days required by the church. Most importantly, as I work through all of these acts of sacrifice, self-denial, increased prayer and alms giving I will be praying intently on the grace from God that many of these "temporary" changes will be changes I am willing and able to continue well past the Lenten season. I only have to look to the early Church Fathers, the Saints and most importantly my good friends right here at my own church as examples of people living their lives for God. Many of them attend daily Mass, pray the rosary daily, and attend weekly Holy Hours and/or Adoration hours. I know some who fast more often than just during Lent and some who abstain from meat on every Friday throughout the year. Are these people better Christians than me? Are they holier than me? Sometimes I think they must be. But I don't think they would agree with that. They are just normal people doing what they can to be closer to God. And they know that they have to work at it.

Lord, protect us in our struggle against evil. As we begin the discipline of Lent, make this season holy by our self-denial. May the light of Your truth bestow sight to the darkness of our sinful eyes and our repentance bring us the blessing of Your forgiveness and the gift of new life. Grant this through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.


Anonymous said...

Very nice. I am giving up sodas, which I love. To that I am adding giving up complaining. The boys and I will make dog treats for the Humane Society and we'll do some other acts of charity. Finally, I will try to say the Divine Mercy chaplet three times a day instead of one time a day. That's my commitment this Lent.....and with God's help I'll be able to do it!!!

Anonymous said...

I still have a few hours but it's likely I won't give up any thing. Some years ago, during one of the pre-Lenten services I heard someone say you shouldn't give up any thing--- you should turn it into a positive and DO something. And that "something" should be directed toward someone else. At church we have a "bring a can, if you can" project .... each week, bring a can of food which is donated to our local food pantry --- I like that idea. We did it during Christmas too and it was a huge success. So I knwo that I'll do for sure. But I'll think of something else too.

Anonymous said...

"I heard someone say you shouldn't give up any thing--- you should turn it into a positive and DO something."

Well, um, did not Jesus "DO" something in the desert? Like fast for forty days? (i.e. he gave up food)

While in principle Anonymous you are correct - doing something in the order of the corporal works of mercy - but don't forget the spiritual works of mercy, too.

Also, following Anonymous' line of thinking, how about read a chapter of Gospels every day - or a paragraph from the catechism (or both!). These would be good examples of "Do"ing something.


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