For Catholics around the world, foreheads smudged with ashes, they are encountering two questions today: "What't that on your forehead?" and "What are you giving up for lent?"
I don't like the latter question, because I think it puts lent in a box- you know, the one where you put all the stuff you're giving up for 40 days. It oversimplifies what lent is about. In the Catholic Church lent exists as a preparatory period for Easter. We don't sing the gloria for mass, we cut out the recessional. We are somber. We are vessels of penance and prayer, sacrifice and self giving.
For me, lent is more than just giving up something you shouldn't be doing anyway. It's an opportunity to focus myself on what's really important, which is exactly what I will be doing.
PRAISEI will be joining the ranks of the choir again for mass. Singing is a beautiful form of prayer, and committing myself to doing it every week for mass again is daunting.
PRAYERLast year I said the rosary every single day, and it was an incredible spiritual experience. I want to repeat this, meditating especially on the luminous mysteries- the miracles of Christ.
SACRIFICEReally, including this is cheating. I will no longer be buying any sort of instant gratification food- no "I forgot my lunch" excursions, no nonfatventichaitealatte, no short cuts, no easy way out. All my meals will be made by me (or by someone who likes me a lot.) I should be doing this anyway, so I'm using lent as a push point to make positive changes.
I'm not always great about being intentional with my time. I use movies and books to de-stress, pouring myself into someone else's life rather than focus on my own. Thus electronics: phone, netflix, facebook, blogging- will be taking a back seat as they should to my family, my home, and my soul.
What are you doing for lent?