As we progress through Lent, it’s the perfect time to take stock of our spiritual practices during this holy season and reaffirm our commitment to finishing Lent strong and preparing to celebrate the joy of Easter.
If you’ve been sticking to your original plans for prayer, fasting and almsgiving, we’ve got some ideas to help you deepen your practices and take the final weeks of Lent to the next level.
And if you’ve been struggling a bit, no worries. We’re here to help re-energize you and get you back on track to make the most of your Lent. After all, Lent reminds us we can re-create ourselves and renew our hearts at any time.
1. Make tech a prayer tool
Finding time to pray every day can feel difficult — if not downright intimidating — in these times of non-stop technology and 24/7 accessibility. So, turn the tables and use tech to your advantage. With daily meditations coming right into your inbox, it’s easy to spend some quiet moments in reflection. There are a number of options, but two we like are Living Lent Daily from Loyola Press and Best Lent Ever from Dynamic Catholic.
2. Try different forms of prayer
If you’re already in a solid prayer routine, branch out to some traditional methods that might be new to you. Schedule some time to attend Eucharistic Adoration or Stations of the Cross, or consider learning to pray the Liturgy of the Hours.
3. Don’t forget the communal aspect of prayer
Extend your personal prayer life to your friends and family by inviting them to attend Mass or another parish activity. Even an invitation to the Friday fish fry can be a bold first step toward engaging someone in your faith community. One of the great blessings of Lent is the reminder that we don’t walk through the desert alone — indeed, we’re all on this journey together.
4. Make prayer part of your fasting commitment
If you’ve decided to give up something like chocolate, alcohol or social media for Lent, remember to add in an extra element of prayer. In prayer, ask God for fortitude and ask yourself why you chose to give up the item in question. What impact has it been having on your life? Did it distract you from things that truly matter? Without prayer, the thing from which you’re fasting can become your focus, making Lent feel like a slog you can’t wait to be done with. Remember: The goal is transformation, not frustration.
5. Fast from your sins through Reconciliation
Lent is an ideal time to fast from negativity, from the sorrow of sin. Many parishes hold special Lenten penance services, so make a point of going to Reconciliation at least once before Easter. If you feel a little nervous, don’t overthink it. Approach Reconciliation with an open heart, speak honestly and let the Holy Spirit do the rest. Fast from your fear!
6. Fast from envy with a gratitude journal
Another way to encounter the Holy Spirit is through gratitude. Specifically, a gratitude journal empowers you to fast from envy. In a world driven by Facebook and Instagram, it’s easy to become wrapped up in comparisons. Instead, write down at least one thing every day for which you’re grateful. Allow yourself several minutes to ponder what means the most to you — realizing all of it comes from God — and then let your thankfulness flow.
7. Reflect on how you use your resources
Almsgiving means truly putting your money where your mouth is. Spend some time seriously reflecting on how and where you spend your treasure. Could you find $1 a day to add to your weekly parish collection? Could you cut back on eating out and find a savings of $10 or $20? In the second half of Lent, could you double what you’ve donated so far? Challenge yourself to give more than you once thought possible, relying on God’s Providence.
8. Offer a Mass intention
For a different approach to almsgiving, offer a Mass for a loved one. Though nothing is required, the typical suggested donation to have a Mass said for someone — living or deceased — is $10. (If that amount isn’t possible for you, speak to someone in your parish office.) What better way to bless someone’s life than through the community’s celebration of the Eucharist?
9. Donate more than dollars
What many people need most is your time. Consider the new co-worker you don’t know very well yet, the friend caring for a new baby or the out-of-town cousin you’ve been meaning to call. Offer to take your co-worker for coffee, have a meal delivered to your tired friend or send a loving text to your relative. Look for simple, daily ways to tell people, “I’m thinking of you and I’m here for you.”
Lent might be halfway over, but there are still countless ways to prepare yourself for the coming of Christ. Be open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, calling and challenging you to act in ways both great and small. Whatever you decide to do (or not do) to observe this solemn season, remember that the point is to allow Lent to change your heart so you can go out into the world and fill the hearts of others.