Updated: Mar 5, 2020
Lent begins in two days. In two days we will have our foreheads marked with ashes in a cross shape. “Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.” The ashes are a sacramental that reminds us that we are sinners and need to repent, to turn away from sin, and turn back to God. Lent is the season where we examine our spiritual lives and discern with the help of the Holy Spirit where we need to grow and what are the sinful areas we need to avoid. The ashes remind us of the Lenten call to BEGIN AGAIN. Last week we talked about several main areas of sin we can look at to see where we are, today let’s talk about a possible response to each area of sin:
gluttony (lack of control over what we eat or drink) Response – give up your favorite food or dessert or decide to fast (eat one meal only) two days a week
sloth (no time to pray, skipping Mass, not going to confession, spending too much time on computers or devices) Response – go to daily mass two days a week during Lent, or go to Confession twice during Lent and use a thorough examination of conscience and prepare the day before going. Or give up social media during Lent and use that time to read a spiritual book instead.
pride (I’m in control of my life and I don’t need to turn to God in prayer and ask for His will not mine, I have it all together and don’t need to stop and ask God what His will is, I know all of the answers to everything) Response – During Lent in EVERY conversation never let yourself have the last word. Let other people speak first and don’t always volunteer your opinion first. Also pray the Litany of Humility every day.
vanity (what others think of me is more important than what God thinks of me and controls my actions and I contort myself to please others) Response – Every day during Lent do one charitable act for someone, and do it without telling anyone. Example, do a helpful act for a roommate, let someone in front of you in traffic, pay for someone’s coffee or groceries, give money to the homeless all around us. But do these things without seeking a pat on the back from anyone.
anger (am I impatient with my family members or co-workers, do I lose my cool in traffic, do I sometimes totally blow my fuse) Response – Pray the Litany of Trust every morning and read Abandonment to Divine Providence by de Caussade. When you begin to feel angry or impatient remember the enemy is trying to tempt you and say “Jesus I trust in You” and a Hail Mary and don’t respond right away. Take a step back and ask for God’s help to be more loving. Asking for help from God is key.
lust (can be sexual or material, does my desire for sexual pleasure or sensual appetites control my thoughts) Response – St Augustine said, “Lust indulged became habit, and habit unrestricted became necessity.” To work on the sin of lust takes discipline and a lot of prayers, and an accountability partner. Go here to read about how to battle lust. During Lent go to Confession as often as you need to confess the lust and receive the grace to battle this sin. Also, the grace received from daily Mass helps battle this sin – make your Mass intention overcoming lust.
envy (do I spend a lot of time on social media comparing my life to others and wanting what they have instead of being grateful for the many blessing God provides) Response – Give up social media for Lent. Volunteer in a homeless shelter or work at the Pregnancy Aid Clinic. Write a gratitude list every morning and see the blessings God pours out constantly. Read Growing in Gratitude by Mary K Mohler Here are some more tips for Lent from Dan Burke, author, and spiritual director. How to have a transformational Lent. Focus on two things:
1. Pick something to give up you will joyfully do again at the feast of the Resurrection (hint, don’t give up a sin like gossiping that you aren’t supposed to be doing anyway).
2. Give up a good that you can do again with great joy on Easter Sunday. Pick one thing you will retain as a spiritual focal point for the rest of the year (pray and ask the Holy Spirit to show you an area). This could be adding daily prayer, adding time to prayer, adding a daily rosary, daily mass, stations of the cross, etc.
Getting Serious, how to stick to your Lenten plan:
Make a solemn commitment and write it down
Be specific. Ask God for the Grace you to fulfill it.
Aggressively seek accountability and pray a daily Examen.