TEN simple things you can do this Lent (that does not require you to stand on your head)
Sadly Lent has been painted with the same brush every year; its purple and that translates for many to being a downer. I have long advocated for a change in mind-set. Personally, the transformation for me took place when I read the collect (opening prayer at mass) in the old translation of the missal on the first Sunday of Lent. It read, “Lord we thank you for this JOYFUL season when your renew heart and mind.”
So Lent is most certainly not about what you can’t do but really about what you could do. It’s a time when you get affirmed and encouraged to make positive changes. You can’t defeat the darkness of your life by sitting in the room and cursing the devil. What you need to do is strike a match, a flame of love for God, by loving others.
To achieve the results we so desire, we must prepare ourselves and while Lent is often seen (not necessarily) as preparation for the Holy Tridum, culminating with Easter, we need to be in preparatory mode before we enter the season itself. We need a preparation for the preparation and that should begin right now!
So what can you do this Lent?
1. Head to confession on or before Ash Wednesday!
You don’t have to look like the cat that ate the canary all through the season on Lent! So why wait for the last week before the Holy Tridum to go to confession? You can’t share sacred space with the devil. If this time is LENT to you by Jesus then wipe the slate clean and don’t share air space with satan. The season of Lent is not a time of visitation (by the Lord) but habitation. He wants to dwell in you. God does not want a part of you; he wants all of you beginning with your heart. This lent, have a heart to heart conversation with your one true love, Jesus.
2. Clear your closet – sharing is caring
Many of us have things that we truly don’t use. Look through your stuff and you will find things that you have not used for more than six months. If you have not used it you don’t really need it. Make a list of 40 things that you have and can share it with others.
3. Visit the Blessed Sacrament – Be encouraged little limbs where you walk
The Archdiocese is blessed to have adoration chapels in every parish. These little ‘rooms of communion’ are perfect places to have a chat with the Lord. Many of us are blessed to have an adoration chapel situated along our daily work route or around our office area. A visit to meet Jesus either at the start, end or sometime at lunch will greatly help your spiritual life. If you don’t know what to do at first, find a prayer book and simply recite a prayer, gradually begin to have a chat with Jesus; tell him how your day was.
4. Slow the flow – think of the earth
The season of Lent can also be a time of concern for the earth. At the start of the season slow the flow of your faucets. Just under each sink is a flow restrictor. Sadly when they are installed they are set to maximum flow. Turn down the flow a bit. At first you will find your patience being tested as water does not flow as swiftly as you were used to. In time it will grow on you. You may not be able to tackle every environmental challenge, but you can do your part for the earth this Lent.
5. Sacrifice – I no longer live!
Is a very positive attitude that has been given a constant negative twist. To sacrifice is simply taking a step back and allowing someone else to move ahead. It’s when the “I” takes a back seat. Remember how we spell the word ‘sIn’ replace it with ‘O’ for others and you get THE ‘sOn’
6. Reach out – smile it increases your face value
Consciously seek to reach out to at least one person each day. It may be a person whose services you take for granted; a house help or a lift operator. Try also reaching out to someone who always comes across as grumpy. Remember that people are not set in stone and your smile can tear down a wall.
7. Give Zomato a break
Seriously. I don’t want to trivialize the season of Lent but perhaps we can eat in as a family and eat meals cooked at home. Given the challenges of our fast paced life we choose to order out and slip into a couch before the TV. This season get the family to cook modest meals and eat together. Zomato won’t go out of business, I assure you.
8. Attend a para liturgical service
The Way of the Cross is fast going ‘out of fashion’. It’s a beautiful meditation on the sufferings of Jesus on Good Friday. Usually held each Friday in Lent, this service is worth the half an hour it takes and is spiritually nourishing.
9. Feed the hungry
This Lent, skip a meal from time to time but offer the same meal you would eat to someone in need. Better still, gather a few friends and cook a vegetarian meal that you can pack and distribute.
10. Pick a spiritual book – feed your mind
Find a book that easy to read; a chapter of the Bible or a book on the lives of saints, or a book with short reflections. I was deeply touched and transformed when I read the books of Fr Anthony D’Mello. His short pithy anecdotes and reflections are loaded with deep reflection.
Finally, don’t give up on the disciplines that you choose this season of Lent. Remember that God is working for you even though it might not feel good to you.
Fr Warner D’Souza
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