Top Ten Things to Do This Lent

Lent is finally here, and because it is a lot easier to make a list than actually arrange thoughts into paragraph form, here is my list of the top ten things you should do this Lent. So sit back, enjoy, and kindly ignore the fact that there are actually only nine items on this list.

1. Slow down.

Lent is about repentance. It’s about honestly examining our lives and acknowledging our sins and failings. It’s about turning around. However, none of this can be accomplished if we are living our lives like Speedy Gonzalez on a caffeine high. Every now and then we need to take a break from our busy and hectic lives and just slow down. Take a chill pill. Spend some quiet time with God, and let Him show you how to make your life more peaceful and fulfilling. Which leads to number two…

2. Pray!

Nothing is more vital to a healthy spiritual life than prayer. It cannot be overrated. It should be the start and end of all we do, and truly, we should do it without ceasing. If you don’t believe me, ask St. Alphonsus de Liguori:

“But by praying our salvation is made secure, and very easy. It is not necessary in order to save our souls to go among the heathen, and give up our life. It is not necessary to retire into the desert, and eat nothing but herbs. What does it cost us to say, My God, help me! Lord, assist me! Have mercy on me! Is there anything more easy than this?”

Lent is a perfect time to rededicate ourselves to prayer, to building good prayer habits, so that we will really know and be communicating with the Risen Christ we encounter on Easter.

3. Remember you are dust.

We will hear these words at Ash Wednesday Mass, but we should constantly remind ourselves of these words throughout Lent. You are dust. You are nothing. It’s true. You did not call yourself into existence out of the dust and you have no power to prevent yourself from returning there. During Lent, we remind ourselves of this truth so that we can be all the more surprised by an even greater truth. Though in ourselves we are nothing, God has made us something: something special, something beautiful, something extraordinary, something with dignity and worthy of respect. He has made us children of God, but not through our own merits. Through His.

4. Go to Confession.

The priest will take our sins, and through the power of Christ, they will be destroyed. He will kill them. They will be no more. You will encounter Christ, and He will give you His overwhelming mercy and abundant grace, and He will prepare you for the unfathomable joy of Easter. ‘Nuff said.

5. Go to Mass.

Jesus will be there. Literally. At Mass we are able to unite our sufferings, our hardships, and all of ourselves to Christ Himself, whose eternal sacrifice at Calvary is made present for us in the Eucharist. Through the Mass, our lives can be transformed from comfortable and mundane existences to joyful and sacrificial participation in the saving mystery of Christ. So stop being boring. Go to Mass. Go on Sunday, as we are required to do, but also pick a day of the week and go to daily Mass on that day for all of Lent. It will make your life a lot more interesting.

6. Fast, abstain from meat, and do penance.

This one is pretty easy. The Church even gives us specific days we have to do these things to make it easy on us. Each day in Lent is designated by the Church as a penitential day, meaning we should devote ourselves especially to some form or forms of penance on each of these days. In addition, we must fast (only one full meal plus two smaller meals) on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday and abstain from meat on Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, and all Fridays during Lent.

So, let’s actively and consciously immerse ourselves in this penitential season, ridding ourselves from any excessive attachments to the goods of this world so that we may fully possess the good that is Jesus Christ, and the victory of His resurrection.

7.  Stations of the Cross.

In order to follow Christ, we have to know Him. We have to know what He did, we have to know how He acted, we have to know what He loved. And all these things are exemplified most perfectly in His passion and death. Through meditating upon the mystery of Christ’s passion and death, we come to better understand Christ,  the incredible thing He did for us, the humble, obedient way in which He did it, and the love that He has for all humanity. And what’s more, by contemplating his death, we also better come to understand His Resurrection, which we will celebrate this Easter.

8. Love.

“Children, let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth” (1 John 3:18). We talk about love all the time. Let’s actually do it. Lent is all about purging ourselves of old habits and vices, and building new ones. It’s for cultivating virtue and building habits of love. So let’s start building these habits, sharing the love of Christ with everyone we encounter. Let’s transform this world with love.

9. Pray some more!

Seriously guys, it’s important. Not only for our own salvation and relationship with God, but also for the well-being and salvation of others. So pray. Pray for religious freedom in the United States, pray for an end to abortion, pray for peace, pray for catechumens and candidates who are preparing to enter the Church this Easter, pray for the repentance and salvation of all souls, and pray that God’s will may be done in all things, and that we may all have a holy and fruitful Lent.

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