January has sped by taking with it all my good intentions of making New Year’s Resolutions for 2018. Well, Lent is coming soon—this year on Valentine’s Day! So, I’m turning my attention a week early to consider what I want to and will do as my 2018 Lenten practice. It is a second chance at my New Year’s Resolution(s). Who knows, it could flower into a practice for the whole year.
As long as I can remember, for most Catholics Ash Wednesday always signaled a time to give up sweets and desserts as the usual Lenten penance. But the question: “Why not consider other kinds of Lenten practice(s) that might be more transformative in our lives and in the lives of others?” challenges us to take our Lenten Penance to the next level, giving it more thought and meaning.
In case the imagination goes sluggish on this topic, a quick search on Google provides plenty of ideas for what one can do for Lent. Here are seven practices I am considering–maybe I’ll choose just one to do everyday throughout Lent, or do a different practice each day of the week.
- Resolve to do a random act of kindness to/for someone [Sunday]
- Spend an extra 15 minutes in prayer: no agenda, just soak in God’s love [Mon.]
- Mindful portion reduction; take less for dinner and savor more [Tues.]
- An extra 10-15 minutes of spiritual reading from an inspirational book; perhaps partner with someone to mutually share what is reaped [Wed.]
- Practice loving an ‘enemy’— pray for someone who seems especially annoying and ask God to bless them [Thurs.]
- Plan or spontaneously do a WORK OF MERCY [Fri.] (see List)
- Declutter your house, your closet, your bedroom, your office – by choosing one thing to give away, discard, recycle, donate [Sat.]
Number seven, declutter—cries out to me every time I open my closet. Even after doing this practice for Lent last year—40 days, ridding my space one day at a time of 40 things I did not really need—I realize how easy it is to fill it again one thing at a time. Gifts, bargains too good to pass up, things I thought I needed but did not after all. Fasting from getting more unnecessary things, combined with donating gently worn clothes –as almsgiving–could not only transform my closet, but touch other lives positively.
To do numbers one through six on the designated day, could add more ‘Spirit’ and mindfulness to my spiritual life. Plus doing number seven every day of Lent (not just on Saturdays), could become a good habit—a resolution for the rest of the year. I would be moving in the direction of one of my goals: to live with greater simplicity. And I’ll be grateful I chose this Lenten practice the next time I pack to move.
There is a website that gives a daily creative idea for decluttering (not just closets, but also desks, offices, refrigerators, handbags, and more). It might be a fun incentive for anyone who takes this on as a daily challenge. [Search: 365 less things.]
Okay, I still have a week, but now I have a plan…
What do you plan to do for Lent this year?