Every year, I look forward to Lent. Indeed, that seems a strange thing to say, as Lent is a time of sacrifice and penitence. There is, however, something special about this liturgical season, set apart from the others by its solemn liturgies and sacramentals, that really speaks to me.
Therefore, every year I anticipate Lent with a lot of excited preparation. What should I give up this year? Instead of giving something up, should I add in a new spiritual practice or two? Perhaps I should try and pray the Liturgy of the Hours every day? Maybe go to daily Mass?
These are all excellent ideas, and I have experimented with each of them through the years. This year though, like the true procrastinator that I am, I still have not fully decided what I will do yet! Indeed, based upon my past experiences, I have found that I am most successful at sticking to my Lenten promises if I start small. Bl. Teresa of Calcutta assures us that small things done with great love are a tremendous gift to Our Lord, yes?
My tentative plan this year is to once again start with one to two small spiritual resolutions. Subsequently, halfway through Lent, I can try adding something additional into the mix, and then for Holy Week I can add in yet more. Using this tiered strategy, I do not feel overwhelmed throughout Lent, and thus am less likely to fail at the whole shebang.
Because, well…that has happened before, if you catch my drift.
This is fodder for spiritual contemplation, but yet will not take longer than five minutes to complete each morning. I buy a copy each year and do my best to keep up with the daily reflections. I am also completely in love with Sacred Reading:
I have been using this book each morning since the New Year, and I am finding it incredibly fruitful to my spiritual life. It provides the daily Gospel reading along with other short prompts for lectio divina based upon the Gospel message. For Lent, this is ideal. Although you could spend quite a long time each day with this book if you chose, it is also amenable to a shorter length of time if that is what works with your schedule. What I do is keep it on my bedside table and before I even get out of bed, I pull the book over and read the day’s selections. Given that it is the winter, it is certain appealing to linger beneath the blankets longer!
As Lent gains some steam, I would like to add in one additional Mass per week outside of Sunday. I absolutely love attending daily Mass, but I have not been able to go regularly in many years due to my work schedule. Just one extra though? I can often find a way. It may mean leaving my house earlier so that I can catch a Mass that begins soon enough to still get to work on time, or it may mean a somewhat hectic lunch hour, but it is manageable. Lent is special, right? I can find a way for the season.
Another sacrament that I would like to frequent much more than I actually do is reconciliation. Lent is the perfect time to squeeze in a visit to the confessional. It has been several months since I have gone, and so I am resolving to get to confession once before Holy Week.
Speaking of Holy Week, that is one of my favorite weeks of the entire year! If I have gradually stayed successful with my planned Lenten resolutions, Holy Week, with all of its beautiful liturgies, offers the perfect opportunity to savor the spiritual serenity. Last year I also prayed the Liturgy of the Hours during Holy Week, which brought out the meaning of each day even more significantly for me. I find it difficult to incorporate the Liturgy of the Hours into my prayer life on a regular basis, but Holy Week lends itself to carving out the time.
My hope is that all of this will culminate into an emotionally charged Easter vigil Mass. Hope springs eternal when it comes to Lenten preparation, yes? I am going to pray for the intercession of Bl. Teresa that we all have a fruitful and meaningful Lent.
What are your plans for Lent this year? Are you giving something up, or adding new routines into your prayer life? I would love to hear what your plans are!
Copyright 2016 Tiffany Walsh. All rights reserved.
About the Author
Tiffany Walsh is a wife and mother, a native western New Yorker, and a college librarian. She is a cradle Catholic who rekindled her childhood faith as a graduate student via her love of books, and is the author of Exploring the Catholic Classics, part of the Stay Connected Journals for Catholic Women series. She enjoys writing about faith, crafting, dance, fitness and wellness. Visit her blog at Life of a Catholic Librarian.