Have you thought much about what you will be giving up this year? Like many of you, I have been pondering this question long and hard, and came to the decision that I will not be giving up anything.
Well, in 8th grade, I gave up junk food and pop so I could fit into my cotillion dress.
My senior year of high school, I started running a few times a week so I would look better in my prom dress.
My junior year of college, I gave up drinking on weekdays and cursing (partly for God; partly to break bad habits).
Does this sound familiar to you? If it does, you are in good company, which is why I come before you with this request: Don't even bother giving up anything this Lent.
Now, before you begin sending me emails condemning my sentiments, just hear me out. Instead of giving up anything this Lent, consider taking up something that will teach you about your faith, evangelization, and/or deepen your relationship with Christ.
Need ideas? Here are 5 things to take up this Lenten season:
This is something that I did last Lent and absolutely loved! Each Wednesday, my toddler and I would make a special afternoon out of attending Adoration and would spend up to a half hour with the host (depending on how my 2-year-old was feeling that day) and then go to lunch to enjoy some special time together. As a work-from-home mom of two busy boys, I don't get to go to Adoration nearly as often as I would like (or should), so having this special time carved out to go made the Lenten season even more meaningful.
Whether you work in a soup kitchen only once these 40 days or do something for someone every day, go out and serve your fellow man without expecting anything in return. The world will not only become a better place, but so will your heart!
This is something else that I have done the last 4 Lents that I cannot recommend enough: Find out what the daily Gospel readings are (or download an app like Laudate), carve out some quiet time each day, read, and reflect. (Whenever I do this, I also check out the daily reflections on Laudate -- they are VERY helpful and make the readings a little easier to understand!)
Want to take your daily reading to a whole other level? Join a bible study! If you live in a bigger city, there is a good chance your parish already has a number of studies available -- take advantage of this! If you live in a smaller parish (like my parents do), form your own with friends and meet weekly for dinner, discussion, and fellowship. Need a suggestion? Check out either 33 Days to Morning Glory or Consoling the Heart of Jesus, both of which are by Fr. Michael Gaitley.
I had actually never heard of this concept until last week on EWTN, but the way it works is this: We are all taught that we are supposed to tithe 10% of our income pre-tax, right? But instead of tithing 10%, some people go WAY above and beyond by tithing 90% and living off the other 10. How cool would this be to do during Lent? Not only would you be helping your church, but you may also learn something new about yourself (like, maybe you don't need your daily $5 latte to get by!). Not quite ready to make that big of a jump? Try adding an additional $10 or $20 to weekly tithe during this Lenten season.
3.) Daily Scripture
4.) Bible Study
5.) 90/10 Tithe
Now I want to hear YOUR suggestions! What are your plans this Lent? Will you be giving something up or adding something new to your routine? Let me know in the comments.