For prayer, fasting, and penance, otherwise known as Lent!
Since tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, I thought I’d post a little about my plans for the season. I am a perfectionist. I have the tendency to think, “Ah, this year! This Lent is going to be the one that changes my life!” So then I make a long laundry list of spiritual goals to achieve. And by the second week of Lent I’ve failed at my goals and given up, or like last year, a curveball of a life event is thrown at me, and I completely forget it’s even Lent until Palm Sunday. Oops.
This past Sunday, our priest’s homily was about preparing for Lent. And he said something really important, which I needed to hear. Set reasonable goals for Lent. You will not become an expert in contemplative prayer or a mystic in 40 days. This Lenten season can be called a success if you come out of it a little bit kinder, a little bit holier, and a little bit less attached to the things of this world.
One of my major flaws (sins I guess might be more accurate) is that I feel I must do everything perfectly, and if it is not done perfectly, I usually abandon it in favor of doing nothing. Or starting a new project.
This Lent, I am taking on a new project, namely, taking on smaller spiritual goals with the hope of actually following through with them.
So here’s the plan:
Read Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis. This is a spiritual classic, and one I haven’t read before. It too has short chapters, so I thought Lent would be a great time to read it through.
and read The Power of a Praying Wife by Stormie Omartian. I picked this book because I like the idea of praying one chapter each day (there are 30 short chapters) throughout Lent.
Pray the rosary 3 times weekly.
Attend daily Mass once during the week.
15 minutes (at least) of personal prayer daily to cultivate the virtue of gentleness.
Abstain from meat on Wednesdays as well as Fridays.
Make a donation to Catholic Relief Services based on the amount of money we would have spent on meat during Lent.
Some people might think it’s a bad idea to talk about what you are doing for Lent, that it violates the spirit of the sacrifice or something to that effect. I suppose that could be true, but I’ve had many experiences of feeling inspired and energized by reading or hearing about the spiritual goals and desires of others.
What’s your Lenten plan?