At it’s core, Lent is a time for renewing and refreshing our own spirits.
Traditionally there are three main components to Lent: prayer, fasting, and giving (almsgiving.) What follow are 36 ways to live out the Lenten season. Don’t try to do them all. Just choose one that is meaningful to you.
There is no particular order or magic to these suggestions, and you may know of other, far more creative ideas. However, if you’re looking for some prompts, hopefully you will find one or two here. I’d love to hear some ways that you are “practicing” the season of Lent, so please feel free to leave a comment. Your comments will be helpful to the other readers of this blog as well.
- Read a little Scripture. Use the reading plan here (or maybe choose one of the Gospels)
- Read a spiritual book for ten minutes
- Spend ten extra minutes in silence
- Stop by a church to pray for five minutes on your way to/from work (if possible)
- Put aside $1-$2 a day and give it to charity at the end of Lent (consider giving to Haiti or Chile if you haven’t done so)
- Wake up earlier than usual to pray (get up as soon as the alarm goes off)
- Give up or spend less time on the Internet, especially facebook, twitter, and other social networking sites
- Give up or cut down on television.
- Don’t listen to the radio while you drive; use the silent time for prayer
- Cut down on the number of times a day you check email
- Fast for one meal this week if your health allows for it.
- Call a friend or family member each day—or a few times during the week— to see how they’re doing
- Volunteer your time at a local soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or another place that is committed to serving the poor, addicted, or abused.
- Remain calm when driving. (wow, this will separate the players from the pretenders…)
- Simplify your life: each week go through your closets and drawers and get rid of clothes and give them to the needy; each week get rid of books and find a place to give them away
- Reconcile yourself to someone you don’t like, or even hate or did something bad to, or just intentionally stayed away from.
- Do acts of kindness for people, just because the opportunity’s there; give them little tastes of God’s love.
- Think upon something ordinary that you do every day, and think about God while doing it, in a way that ties into what you’re doing. Or think of a place you come to regularly, and each time think where Christ might be in this place, what Christ might do there, or what you might be led to do for Christ.
- Try to find a new way every day to bring to mind Jesus’ death on the cross, and why it happened.
- Have special time to walk outdoors with your spouse and/or children and let them know how special they are.
- Make an effort to have family meals more regularly, even a fun meal like pizza.
- Make a quick stop at a relative’s house for an overdue visit.
- Remember to say grace at mealtime.
- Pray in the evening alone, as a couple and/or as a family.
- Make a visit to a nursing home.
- Offer to have children’s friend, especially one experiencing trouble in their life, over for a meal.
- Call a friend that you haven’t talked to in some time.
- Have family discussions about the season of Lent.
- Keep some fresh flowers or a flowering plant as a reminder of spring and the coming of Easter.
- Write an overdue thank you note to someone who has done a kindness.
- Call a friend or relative that has recently experienced a loss.
- Create a Lenten gratitude list as a family, adding one or more items each day.
- Take time to review negative behaviors. Consider ways to create more positive behaviors.
- Try to avoid complaining and criticizing. (this one step could revolutionize everything…)
- Offer to help with someone else’s project.
- Offer prayers of thanks in the morning and at the end of the day.
Thanks to Fr. Michael Najim and Mary Carty for the list of ideas.