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The early Christians observed with great devotion the days of our Lord's passion and resurrection, and it became the custom of the Church that before the Easter celebration there should be a forty–day season of spiritual preparation.
During this season, converts to the faith were prepared for Holy Baptism. It was also a time when persons who had committed serious sins and had separated themselves from the community of faith were reconciled by penitence and forgiveness and restored to participation in the life of the Church. In this way, the whole congregation was reminded of the mercy and forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel of Jesus Christ and the need we all have to renew our faith.
We invite and encourage you, in the name of the Church, to observe a holy Lent through the following practices:
Give up harsh words: use generous ones.
Give up unhappiness: take up gratitude.
Give up anger: take up gentleness and patience.
Give up pessimism: take up hope and optimism.
Give up worrying: take up trust in God.
Give up complaining: value what you have.
Give up stress: take up prayer.
Give up judging others: discover Christ within them.
Give up sorrow and bitterness: fill your heart with joy.
Give up selfishness: take up compassion for others.
Give up being unforgiving: learn reconciliation.
Give up words: fill yourself with silence, and listen to others.
Give up the ways of death: practice resurrection.
Be still: Try spending five minutes in silent meditation – close your eyes, breathe deeply, cup your hands and place them on your lap. Select a sacred word to repeat that will direct your mind to God. Listen with an open heart.
Daily Examen: Spend time each evening reflecting on the day. Record your thoughts in a journal. Ask yourself…
Altar: Create a sacred space in your home or office that directs your thoughts toward all that is good, true, and beautiful. Use a piece of purple cloth as a foundation. Add a candle and Bible. Then as you move through Lent, add objects that “speak to you,” such as rocks, shells, leaves, flowers, crosses, cactus, or photos. You might want to spend your time of devotion in this space.
Creation: Lent literally means “spring.” Spend time in God’s beautiful world, paying attention to the transformation from winter to spring. Plant something. Go on a walk. Hike a trail. Ride your bike. Eat outside. Try out a new playground. Listen to the birds.
Simplify: Let your physical space reflect the spaciousness of your spirit. Declutter your environment. Clean out a closet, a drawer, the trunk of your car. Bring your unwanted items that are worth passing along to others to MAM (Memorial Area Ministries).
Pay your debts: Do you have business hanging over your head? A bill to pay? A phone call to make? An e-mail to send? Taxes to file? See your business affairs as a spiritual practice.
Confess: Whom have you wronged? Whom have you hurt? Take responsibility for your actions. Do not justify. Ask for forgiveness.
Take Care: “Do you not know that you are a temple of the Holy Spirit?” Take care of your body. Get more sleep. Fuel yourself with nutritious foods. Drink more water. Stretch. Get moving. Make that doctor’s appointment. Floss. Wear sunscreen. How is your body in need of attention?
Give: Give your tithes and offerings. Give your time. Give your attention. Give your expertise. Give eye-contact. Give affection.
Appreciate: Choose at least one person each day to tell of your appreciation and gratitude. Write a note. Make a phone call. Send an email. Tell them face-to-face.
This devotional journey to the cross and beyond is geared towards students and young-ish adults, although all ages will find it meaningful.
Sign up to receive a daily devotional in your e-mail inbox from the writings of the spiritual writer Henri Nouwen.