How do you plan for Lent? Tiffany Walsh shares her anticipation and preparation for the liturgical season ahead.
In my part of the world, February heralds an additional month of rolling gray skies and cold, snowy weather. Despite that, I find this to be a comforting and uplifting time of year (and not just owing to my birthday being in February!), because Lent is always on the horizon. And planning for, and journeying through Lent, is one of the great joys of my life each year.
With the weather so unaccommodating to much time outdoors, I love cozying away to plan for what I would like to do this upcoming Lenten season. I know that Lenten goals easily fall prey to the same trepidation that New Year’s Resolutions can bring, with concern over making ambitious plans that you may not be able to follow through with. Remember, however, that planning is always a positive thing, regardless of outcomes! This applies to both spiritual and secular matters, in my experience. God knows the good intentions in our hearts, and each year I thrive on the pull to do better than last year, and to increasingly challenge myself in a healthy way.
Sometimes I will make a multi-level plan to account for my worries about “falling off the Lenten wagon,” with a Plan A as the optimal things I would like to accomplish, and a Plan B as a scaled-back version should things not go entirely as planned. I may include steps towards various Lenten goals, with the knowledge that even accomplishing a few of those steps is more than I would likely have been able to do without the motivation that Lent provides, and so that is still a victory! Lenten planning allows us to spend some time quietly looking within ourselves at what we would like to improve upon, and to seeking God’s voice on how to best accomplish that.
When Lent begins, I love the sense of anticipation Ash Wednesday brings, and the quiet, solemn stretch to begin work on my spiritual goals for the season. I enjoy the extra time in my parish for the various liturgies and retreats that they offer during this season. And I even love the Friday fish fries and the sense of community they lend to this otherwise subdued period of the year.
Although it is a time of penance, Lent also brings increased awareness of God and fellowship in our midst. I treasure each moment, and although memories of our daily lives so often blur together, Lenten days often stand out to me, as I set about my tasks with renewed intention and optimism.
As ever, I am looking forward to getting out my notebook and jotting down some ideas for Lent this year. How do you plan for Lent? Do you write or type it out, or come up with few plans that you share with others as the time draws near? I would love to hear about it in the comments!
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.