Lent is coming quickly. In order to get the most out of Lent, we ought to think about how we are to practice it. Lent is a period where we traditionally practice prayer, fasting and almsgiving. While these are important and necessary, they need to be rooted in a spirituality to sustain them or they just become outward acts. We all ought to see every good work we do as a prayer to God, and Lent is a good time to practice this form of prayer. So, how ought we prepare for Lent?
- First, ask God what your soul needs. Pray about this every day. Often we can be so caught up with our material needs that we completely forget that we are even more spiritual than we are physical, and to be aware of these things we need to take time to pray over them.
- Second, if you already have made vows to God, be firmer in that commitment. If you’re married, dedicate yourself more to the good of your spouse. If you promised to pray the rosary daily, don’t skip a day due to inconvenience.
- Third, practice saying yes to God. When something comes up where you have to make a holy choice or a less holy choice, make the holier choice. For example, choose to be forgiving in a moment you want to react in anger. Or, choose to read a holy book instead of an exciting one with no substance. In our everyday life, we make tons of little decisions that can build our character or distract us.
- Lastly, think of a Lenten penance that addresses anything you find difficult in these suggestions. If you find yourself not making it to Mass on time every week, or you’re leaving early, vow this Lent to make it to Mass early, or stay later to pray. If you struggle finding time to pray, make that the first thing you do every day even if it means getting up earlier. If you have trouble with charity, make it a vow every week to tell one person that you love them. These are just possible suggestions and of course you should pick something that works for you.
Lent is not about feeling bad about yourself or living up to impossible standards. God will never punish someone who is genuinely striving to live a good life that’s pleasing to Him. We might mess up sometimes and get distracted. But, we can always trust in His forgiveness and mercy. I hope that you can all strive for spiritual excellence this Lent and listen to where the Lord is leading you.