By Renée Roden
It may seem like Christmas just passed, but Lent is now upon us—Ash Wednesday is just two short days away!
If you’re looking for ways to grow in faith and prepare your heart for Easter throughout the forty days of Lent, or if you’re looking for some needed inspiration for Lenten disciplines or resolutions: read on.
Our friends at the Jesuit Post recently wrote a post recommending “doing nothing” for Lent.
But how to “do nothing?”
“Doing nothing” doesn’t mean procrastinating or spending time in sweatpants on the couch with video games. Rather, “doing nothing” means making some space in our day to be quiet. In a way, “doing nothing” is making a tithe of our time to give back to God. We don’t have to cram every minute of our days with “doing”; we can save some of it for just “being.”
The other day, I was walking from store to store running errands. There were long lines at each store, and I spent most of my time in line sweating with impatience and tapping my foot.
While sweating and balancing groceries in the Whole Foods line, I thought of that exhortation to “do nothing.”
While it’s definitely annoying when we’re held up by unexpected obstacles or things going slower than planned, I realized that my frustration, rather than the wait itself, was really what was causing me to “waste time.”
It can be hard to see our time as a gift from God and not simply as twenty-four hours for our own personal use. But when I start seeing my time as a gift, I can accept an unexpected interruption with patience and gratitude.
Sometimes “doing nothing” means being okay with wasting time, or going more slowly than expected. It can mean allowing ourselves to be interrupted, taking an extra few minutes for prayer, or slowing down to have time to really listen to our family and friends.
This Lent, I’m hoping to grow in gratitude—for the time that I get each day, even if that time ends up going in a way I didn’t plan. Through treating all my time as a gift, I can practice accepting sometimes “wasting time” or “doing nothing” with God.
As a season of preparation and repentance, Lent is an excellent time to brush up on your Catholic book smarts. As we grow closer to Christ on our walk of faith, we both have to foster a relationship with God in prayer and also a mature understanding of the core beliefs of our faith.
You could read an encyclical, join a scripture study, attend a theology on tap series, or pick up some extra spiritual reading.
Lent is also a great time to engage young children in the stories of the Bible that are being lived out on a macro scale, as we journey from Ash Wednesday to Easter Sunday. Children can follow the Exodus narrative that tells the story of Passover and read the stories of Christ’s Passion in the Gospels.
To promote this liturgical living among young students in the Diocese of Brooklyn, DeSales’ Catholic Telemedia Network is providing a rich resource of educational videos to the parish schools and Catholic academies throughout the diocese.
These videos explain Christ’s Paschal Mystery (or Passion), the reason for the season. It offers lessons on parables of repentance and forgiveness, Lenten imagery, and offers age-appropriate ideas for Lenten disciplines.
It’s a great reminder that as we grow in our faith and as we gain new knowledge of our faith, we need to pass it on to others and pay it forward—especially to the younger members of our Church!
Grow in Love
“What are you giving up for Lent?”
If you grew up Catholic, that’s a common question you’re probably pretty used to answering. Sometimes we can get so used to it, however, that we forget the reason we do it.
Lenten disciplines aren’t about punishing ourselves, and they aren’t about dieting, self-actualization, or achieving fitness goals. Our Lenten sacrifices are made to grow in love of God and in love of our neighbor.
Stripping our lives of some day-to-day comfort: music in the car—Netflix before bed, dessert after dinner—disrupts our hearts and minds and jolts us into a new awareness. The goal is that, over 40 days, we let that new awareness lead us to pay more attention to God speaking to us throughout the day and to the people around us who need our patience, love, and kindness.
As Dave pointed out in our last post on the DeSales Exodus 90 Fraternity, the goal of the Exodus 90 program is not to make extreme sacrifices in order to become stronger or tougher. The goal of the program is to free the participants so that they can find more joy in their friendships and community—so that they can love better. The goal of asceticism is always love.
I asked some of the DeSales team what their Lenten practices were going to be this year. As you can see below, their answers are heartfelt and inspirational examples of striving to love God and others. Hopefully some of their practices can inspire you as you set your own!
“During Lent, to help me grow closer to God and break free from specific sins I struggle with, I give up wearing makeup, worrying, and meat.”
—Alexandra Piña, Senior Manager, Programming
“Each Lent, I coach a Little League Team. The kids are the cutest; I love my little friends.”
—Katie Tamola, Social Media Manager
(Watch Katie in action and learn more about Peter Stuyvesant Little League here!)
“Throughout Lent, I want to give up my ego by practicing a different way of being humble each day. And I’ll be keeping my prayer life strong by participating in Hallow App’s Lenten Prayer Challenge, #Pray40.”
—Dave Plisky, Director of Product & Innovation
“Not judging. While I don’t consider myself a judgmental person, it’s pretty amazing to realize that some even day-to-day thoughts/words/interactions can be rooted in the judgment of others. It’s an exercise in being more mindful of my words and thoughts.”
—Tricia Ang, Account Supervisor
“This year, thanks to the Exodus 90 program, in which I’m already abstaining from meat and alcohol, my approach will be “to give” something. Probably giving my time (of which I’m really jealous), by helping out or volunteering more.”
—Israel Ochoa, Creative Manager
“I give up coffee every Lenten season (not having my morning coffee is a sacrifice), and dealing with me without my morning coffee is worse. I’ve done it for the past few years. On Easter, I get back to drinking coffee, forget to have decaf, and can’t sleep Easter night. Happens every year!”
—JoAnn DiNapoli, Director of Sales
Here’s to growing in love this Lent—love for our families, coworkers, neighbors, and for God.