Thursday, March 5, 2009

Making the Most of Lent

First of all, I want to say "Thanks" to everyone who is reading and following my new blog! I've added some new features, including links to some of my favorite websites and blogs. Some of the links on my website list don't seem to work, and I apologize for that; I'm going to try to fix that problem in the next couple of days, hopefully. At the risk of looking like a name dropper, I want to say "Thanks!" to Patrick Madrid for suggesting the "share this" button. (Check out his blog; it's on the list.) I even figured out how to add this feature all by myself, without asking my husband for help! He's the one I usually turn to for computer issues. This page is a work in progress, and I'm enjoying every minute of it!

We're more than a week into Lent. I must admit, this has never been my favorite time of year. I don't mind abstaining from meat on Fridays, or even giving up something I enjoy. (Although, when the rest of the family is wolfing down Girl Scout cookies while I stand by and watch, it's not always easy!) It's the fasting part that I can't stand. I know, it's only Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, and I've learned to space out the times when I do eat on those days so I don't end up crabby in the evening. The first couple of years after I became Catholic, I used to eat a teeny-tiny breakfast and a teeny-tiny lunch; by dinnertime I was so famished and cranky I was biting everyone's head off. Nowadays I will have a small breakfast (more like a snack) of maybe a little fruit and cheese late in the morning, and eat a regular-sized lunch in the afternoon. By dinnertime I'm hungry, but I can eat just a little bit and still be in a good mood. Why am I telling you this? Because I have decided that this year for Lent, I am fasting at least one day a week. If I'm going to make sacrifices, that would certainly be a good one for me!

Recently, someone encouraged me to have the best Lent I've ever had. I don't know if it was something I heard on the radio, or our parish priest during his homily; but I decided to take that advice. Last week on The Catholic Guy radio show (heard on the Catholic Channel, on Sirius 159 and XM 117), host Lino Rulli admitted that sometimes when a priest friend would ask him, "Are you having a good Lent?" he would answer in the affirmative, but he would be lying. I've read several blogs in the last couple of days where authors admit that they dread Lent. I'm not alone; and this year, if anyone asks me, "How is your Lent going?'' I hope to be able to answer truthfully, "Great! I love the season of Lent!"

Jesus fasted for 40 days in the desert at the beginning of his ministry. Lent is a time to reflect on His sacrifices that He made for us, and to remember the ultimate sacrifice He made, His death on the cross at Calvary. Surely we can make some small sacrifices for the 40 days leading up to Good Friday, and hopefully they will help us grow closer to Him.

Besides my once-a-week fast (hopefully more, if I can, but I'm not going to beat myself up if I find I can't do it more often than that), I'm trying to get up a little earlier in the morning to spend more time in prayer. There was a time when I got up every morning before the sun, even on weekends, read the Mass readings for the day, and prayed the Rosary. I also had a list of intentions for friends and family that I asked certain saints to pray for. I really treasured that quiet time with Jesus, and I felt very close to Him. I'm also doing more spiritual reading; right now I'm reading Scott Hahn's The Lamb's Supper: The Mass as Heaven on Earth. I also picked up a little book called Lent and Easter: Wisdom from G.K. Chesterton; every day there is a quote from one of Chesterton's works, a scripture passage, and a Lenten challenge for the day. (A couple of years ago I read a similar book, Lent and Easter: Wisdom from Pope John Paul II. Both books are published by Liguori Publications in Liguori, MO. For more info, go to and search "lent and easter wisdom.")

The Church also asks us to make a special effort to help those in need during Lent. Many of us make extra donations to the charities we like, and many dioceses have special Lenten fundraisers. I personally would LOVE to begin spending more time volunteering for local organizations that help the poor, and Lent is a great time to get started. (Now maybe I'll practice what I preach...) Last fall I learned about a new pro-life campaign called "40 Days for Life," and all over the United States people prayed and fasted for the unborn, and organized prayer vigils at abortion mills. I had the privilege of accompanying a few friends from my parish to a clinic one morning and spending an hour in prayer there. Another 40 days of prayer and fasting for the most vulnerable of us began on Ash Wednesday and will continue through Palm Sunday. I pray daily for the end to Roe v. Wade and for women facing unplanned pregnancies, and I hope I will get a chance to pray at an abortion clinic again. (Visit I'm working on getting that link fixed.)

What are YOU doing for Lent? Do you struggle with fasting as much as I do? Is there anything unusual you are giving up this year? I have a friend who puts Tabasco on everything; one year she gave up hot sauce. Several years ago I gave up anything made with white flour; I only ate whole grains. That ruled out a lot of desserts and snacks I often crave!

Give me a holler, and meanwhile, have a fantastic Lent.

1 comment:

  1. What a great post, Sharon! I love hearing what people are doing for Lent. I will be back! ;)


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