Make the Best of Lent: 12 Things to Give Up + Take Up

The purpose of Lent is to live out a sober time to prepare for our Lord’s passion and resurrection. It is a season of penance and renewal. 

Make the best of Lent: choose one thing to detach or fast from in the first list. In the second list, choose one thing to attach to.  Choose what is reasonable in your particular circumstances. Wishing you a blessed Lenten season.

DETACHMENTS (Fast From):

  1. Fast From Social Media

Be courageous!  Leave social media for the entire period of Lent! Yes, this means disconnecting from all your social media accounts. There have been several success stories of people who have done this. Yes, it is okay to announce this on social media in a final post before Ash Wednesday. It is an opportunity to evangelize. Just make sure you don’t come back during Lent unless you absolutely have to e.g. for an unlikely work-related emergency.

2. Fast From Food 

This is one of the most popular ones. It includes all types of food and drink such as coffee, alcohol, juice (it does not include water). Yes, it is ok if you have an ulterior motive of weight loss. Christianity cares about a healthy body too. However, ensure that your primary purpose is to fast for Lent. One of the ways to ensure this, is to deepen your life of prayer during Lent.

Caution: if you have certain medical conditions such as diabetes, ulcers or other conditions requiring a certain approach to food or particular diets, this Lenten detachment is probably not for you. Consult with your physician before taking up any fast.

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3. Fast From Investments

Avoid constantly checking your stocks, bank statements or other sites where you have any monetary investment. Trust God during the period of Lent that your investment will be ok. It is ok to visit your bank to do day-to-day transactions e.g. paying bills. The point here is to fast from constantly viewing your profit/loss trends from other income streams. Unless it is a true emergency.

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4. Fast From Possessions

Go through your clothes and furniture. If there are any that you really do not use or honestly do not need, clean them and give them away to one of the many charities in your neighborhood that could use them for charitable purposes. You may also give it to someone else who you know personally needs them.

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5. Fast from Makeup

Ladies, for most of you, this may be terrifying. However, you are beautifully and wonderfully made! (Psalm 139: 14).  Detach yourself from the need to embellish your already beautiful face, made in the image of God. You may just emerge from Lent a whole new person, exuding beauty from the inside out. Again, there are exceptions. Some people use makeup for therapeutic purposes e.g. those with vitiligo or other dermatological conditions. However, they too could fast if so inclined and if courageous enough to do so.

6. Fast From Your Bad Habits.

What are those things you wish you could improve on? Think about them and make a decision to avoid them as much as possible. 

  • For instance, avoid gossip. When tempted to gossip, distract yourself or distract the person drawing you into gossip by asking him or her about herself, her family etc. 
  • Another bad habit to fast from is forming internal judgments about others. Rather, see them as capable of good and evil, just like you. Decide to love them despite the present challenge to your loving them.
  • Plan to listen more. More than you speak. Aim to listen to those people you typically have little patience for.  
  • If you are unsure of what habit to break this Lent, be courageous! Ask those who love you any vice or bad habit they find hard to take in your personality. Aim to work on yourself this Lent and ask God to help you improve.

ATTACHMENTS (Good Things to Pick Up this Lent):

7. Improve Charity: Check on Friends

Connect with those family and/or friends who live alone and invite them for coffee. Be more willing and available to chat with people after Mass or join the after-Mass coffee. Call up a friend who was in difficulty recently or who was going through difficulty the last time you heard from him or her.  If you are the lonely one, be courageous! Call on another person to check in on them.

8. Pick up and Read Scripture

Aim to read one of the first three gospels for Lent: Mathew, Mark or Luke. These tell the story of the life of Christ.  Another way to do this is to follow Bible in A Year, a fantastic program that takes you on a journey through scripture with explanations. You may not finish it during Lent but Lent will be your fantastic start. 

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9. Improve Your Prayer Life

Pray more during Lent. Pray in particular for those you often do not pray for such as people you do not like, or those who annoy you at work or elsewhere. You can easily improve your prayer life during Lent by doing the Stations of the Cross every Friday. Ideally, you should do this prayer with your family. Otherwise you may do it alone. 

You may also wish to do your Rosary daily or do two Rosaries if you were already doing one daily. Another way is to meditate on the Gospel of the day for 15 minutes after you wake up and use the meditation as a basis for your conversation with God that day.

10. Reconciliation

Do a deep clean of your Soul by starting with a good examination of conscience, followed by the Sacrament of Confession. Nearly every Catholic Church provides an opportunity for weekly Confession. Call a Catholic Church near you to confirm.  The Sacrament of Confession is a confidential and Soul-liberating act conducted by Christ himself through the Priest. Through this Sacrament, Christ heals and strengthens us in ways we can barely see or imagine. Confession will also prepare you for all the graces of Easter.   Click here to see  some tips on making a good confession, presented in a witty way.

11. Modesty

Choose to be modest in your speech this Lent. Avoid talking without thinking first. Avoid uncharitable words and swear-words. Be modest too in your clothing. Avoid over-exposure of your body. Treat your body like the Temple of the Holy Spirit that it is (1 Corinthians 6:19). Be creative about your clothing and you will find out that you can look beautiful even while being modest.

12. Mass

Plan to go to Mass beyond Sunday if possible. You may decide to go on Friday mornings before work or Friday evenings if there is a Mass near you. Many Parishes offer Mass before or after the Stations of the Cross on Friday evening so this is another opportunity. See how you can participate more fully in the Mass here.

…….

May you be renewed by these fasts and practices. May your acts of penance be received by God. May the joy that Easter brings be even more glorious and concrete for you after these penances and practices, through Christ Our Lord, Amen. 

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