#1 Obviously, number one should be to increase in PRAYER....MORE TIME SPENT WITH GOD. That should be the whole umbrella over all the other resolutions (if you plan to do more than one). Without prayer, you are only setting yourself up for failure. If you show the Lord that You can take an extra 5 minutes, or an extra half hour, whatever spiritual level you are at and whatever your life circumstances allow, He will make your lenten journey fruitful...both to your own soul but also to those around you (praying more usually gives you the right attitude and mindset to get through the day and allows you to bless people more, instead of ignoring them or complaining/gossiping about them).
Some possible ideas:
- Take an extra 5 minutes in the AM and extra 5 minutes in the PM
- Show God that He's not just in the "margins" of your life (early morning and late evening), but incorporate prayer throughout the day. Try to pray unceasingly, meaning, everything you are doing at that particular time, offer up to God. Live in the present moment and Thank God for those beautiful moments he blesses you with.
- Also, don't leave God for last. Do not save your evening prayers until midnight, when you're so exhausted you just want to pass out...when you're so tired that your brain is dozing off and it is hard to concentrate on your prayers.
- Turn the radio off in your car on your commute to and/or from work and use that time to talk to God, to offer up your thanksgivings, and to reflect on your spiritual or even family life.
- Go to Stations of the Cross every Friday
- Commit to go to daily mass (1 day per week, or every day)
- Pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy at 3pm on Fridays. It only takes 10 minutes (way shorter than Rosary) and Jesus promised great graces to the souls that pray this chaplet and reflect upon this Passion at the Hour of Mercy (3pm).
#2 Do some spiritual readingReading good Catholic books that shape my spiritual life, expand my knowledge, and push me to new challenges is easy for me. Because I am a big book nerd. There is nothing better for me than to sit comfortably at home and read a book (especially one written by a wise Catholic scholar, or doctor of the church, or pope, or some amazingly smart and devout Catholic layman/woman). So I will not be doing this because it is no challenge for me at all.
But I suggest it for those of you who may not do spiritual readings on a regular basis.
Here are two lists from Catholic blogs on recommended readings for Lent. One is from our very own host of the 7QT, Jen Fulwiler.
#3 Do some scriptural readingHere is a good resource that lists all the lenten scripture readings, one for EVERY.SINGLE.DAY - for all 40 days. Also, FREE!
If that's too much or if you need something 'on the run,' go to your appstore on your phone and install the bible app, if you haven't already. Guess what, it's also FREE.
I'm sure you can take an extra 1 or 2 minutes (but more like 1) every day to click on the app and read a short passage. What's cool about it is they give you these super short bible passages (yet, they always seem to speak to me the right words at the right time, just when I need them), one every day, and it is on the front page...so literally one click away. Now you should have no excuses. One click! On that same app, you can even subscribe to a reading plan (based on your topic of interest or topic of NEED) and they will send you passages pertaining to that particular topic every day... Your phone will give you a notification at the same time every day - you pick the time!
#4 Give up social media.
Whatever you are using (possibly obsessed with, addicted to, or it's just wasting too much of your time and you can't refrain from checking it and being nosy and seeing what other people are up to), whether it's twitter or facebook or instagram or whatever it is...GIVE IT UP. Too hard? Offer it up! Don't be soft. Don't be nosy for lent. And don't be wasting time. I know I waste way too much time on facebook, and I have successfully given it up for 2 years in a row now. It's weird, but I really felt refreshed and cleansed after both lents. And when I came back from lent, I wasn't even interested anymore about what people are up to on facebook. But then I let myself slip throughout the year, and now I check facebook what seems like every 5 minutes when I'm on the computer. And now that I have a smartphone, oh my. It is way too distracting when I'm studying and when I'm (supposed to be) praying. So this year, I am re-commiting to this sacrifice and on Ash Wednesday, I shall once again change my profile picture to this (feel free to steal):
#5 Drink only water.Too hard? Then give up your favorite beverage. You know that one beverage that you can't get through the day without (hint: coffee)? Whether it's coffee, tea, soda...whatever, live without that habitual little daily luxury of yours. It will sure exercise your will.
#6 Make some physical sacrifice and offer it up to GodSomething where you can offer up your blood, sweat, and tears to God. Okay, maybe not the blood, or even the tears...but definitely the SWEAT! That is: commit to daily exercise. Not just for the health benefits. We all know lent is NOT about losing weight. Do it for the tremendous values of self-discipline and self-sacrifice that you gain from it.
If you are already self-disciplined enough and care enough about your health to exercise on a regular basis, do something extra. Run that extra mile. Push yourself for an extra 10 minutes and offer that final push completely to GOD. Tell Him: "Lord, every step, every breath, every effort, every drop of sweat...I offer to You. I am doing this FOR YOU."
Exercise also clears your mind and may actually help you focus more on God, that is, if you don't just blast music during your workouts. So here is an extra challenge for those of you who are already pros at exercise and those of you who are just planning to incorporate it into your daily routine: do not listen to music while you're at it! As I said, it clears your mind and you never know, you might just have an epiphany or strike up a cool conversation with God. I swear, when I used to run at the school gym, I would have the best conversations with God while on that treadmill or on that stairclimber, pushing my body to its limits...constantly talking to God for support. It was pretty awesome, actually. So I am signing my name under this challenge for this year's lent.
#7 Finally...Don't be like this guy:
Don't give up! It's only 40 days. Think about Jesus and His Forty difficult days of prayer and fasting in the middle of a hot desert.
If you're not big on committing yourself and you think you will just slip and fall like you usually do, it's better to take up just ONE, SMALL resolution...and only worry about making that one, small sacrifice each day, and I assure You that God will be pleased...perhaps more pleased than you taking on 5-10 things (which is what I've tried in the past...and F.A.I.L.E.D.) and failing all or most of them because you tried to do too much. Our minds and bodies are good at adapting to change, but too much change too quickly (form one day to the next) can overwhelm us and confuse our bodies. And our minds/bodies may try to rebel. Life can usually only be changed one step at a time. Unless you want to go extreme and just go live in the desert for 40 days, like our Lord did ;)
And to start off your weekend well, read my recent posts from this week's 7 posts in 7 days challenge: