I’ll say this in my best Ned-Stark-from-Game-of-Thrones voice: Lent is coming. For most people in the US, this is an annual thing where Catholics walk around with weird black letter T’s on their foreheads, and they start exercising for a few weeks and frequent McDonald’s for their yearly Filet-O-Fish sandwich on Fridays. But for practicing Catholics, it’s a time of somber reflection and spiritual renewal, representing the 40 days in which Jesus Christ spent in the desert praying, fasting, giving up his time, and resisting worldly temptation.
Father Mike Schmitz said it best in his newest Ascension Presents video, Preparing for Lent. The three main aspects include prayer, fasting, and almsgiving – but most importantly, it isn’t the amount of godly actions we do or the things we give up, but it is in the why. Make it intentional. Why is God calling you to do this?
When it comes to preparing for Lent, some things to think about:
– What’s one prayer thing that will help me get closer to Jesus?
– What’s something that I need to fast, to get out of my life, that will purify my life?
– How can I allow this time of Lent (almsgiving) to bless others?
In other words:
How am I growing in authentic relationship with God & blessing others?
I’m a twentysomething Catholic. I’ve always practiced being Catholic, grew up in and around the church, was even pushed into and enjoyed going to Catholic school (twice), and while I have surely doubted or even entirely ignored my faith growing up, I’ve always generally followed Catholic teachings. It wasn’t until I reached my college years that I fully understood what it means to be Catholic. But when it comes to Lent, that brief almost month-and-a-half period of striving to be better, I have always struggled with keeping my promises. In fact, come Ash Wednesday, you’ll find me first in line to get my ashes, but last when it comes to following through on my Lenten promises. I make lists in my head of what I’m going to do to “better myself” over the next 40 days (stop spending money, don’t eat meat, limit time on the Internet, etcetera), but I never really dive into the whole meaning of why. Why am I even doing this? How will it help me to grow as a young woman in relationship with God, and bless others too?
This year, my overall goal is to venture out of my comfort zone, and to trust in God better than I could even trust myself. But this season, I want to add a new focus.
This Lent, I want to be open.
As in an open heart, mind, & spirit. I want to be attentive and authentic. In my early 20s, I’m tired of living in a place of constant fear and pressure, of trying to look and “be” a certain way. I want to be present to those around me, authentic in my relationships and dealings with people, and be open & available to whatever God has in store for my life.
Starting today and for the next 39, I’m fasting from a number of things, things that don’t purify my life, including seriously limiting my time on social media and staying away from Snapchat altogether (if you follow me on Snapchat, you know how badly I need this, lol). I did a social media fast last year and it was so humbling: rather than focusing on getting likes, I was more intentional in living life and appreciating the moment for all of its joys, struggles, and serendipity. I’m also adding more physical / spiritual exercises to my routine, and now this 40-day Lenten blogging challenge. This is something entirely new and honestly pretty daunting for me. I hope it will help me to be more vulnerable, as well as to learn & grow in my writing and, authentically, in my relationship with God.
(PS. Yes, I’m really into challenges.)